The AJTC was top of the executioner’s list of quangos for the chop – sometimes it is no fun being at the beginning of the alphabet. Sad news – the Administrative Justice and Tribunals Council is one of the smaller quangos, not many staff and gets value for money by using its board members as in-house consultants. It was or rather is headed up by one of the bigger hitters in the world of consumer and legal affairs. Richard Thomas – the ex-Information Commissioner – was just getting to grips with the role of the Council, its relationship with the Tribunal network and how the system can respond better to the needs of users. We believe that Richard can take the lead in addressing the best way to marshal the nation’s dispute resolution mechanisms – the courts, tribunals, Ombudsmen, mediation – in a way that would better serve us all as citizens and service users by offering the means to resolve our problems effectively and peacably. He was already exploring the big themes of proportionality and access and encouraging a return to first principles as the first step in a programme of change. The present system is a historic, higgledy piggledy anthill of legal and quasi-legal services that falls considerably short if assessed through the traditional consumer principles of access, choice, information and value for money.
A Great National Project
There are the seeds here of a great national project that would save our time and our money and we feel sad that the only person that we know capable of taking such a potentially huge project to a successful conclusion, may have been taken off the case. Richard both understands the need for this reform and secondly he has the legal and policy-making experience. He is of the law but from his earliest days in a London Law Centre has never hesitated to rattle the cage of the legal system.
One Citizen’s Experience – uniting the personal with policy
We had become involved with the AJTC because we had done a short session for their team on customer service and the role of complaints (no charge – no expense to the taxpayer. Did we say that Richard can be very persuasive?). Also more close to home and in line with the MAC philosophy of walking the talk, I had recently had some direct experience of the Tribunal service and taking a case on behalf of my fellow leaseholders of a block of flats in South London. I wrote the case up as a contribution to a consultation being run by the AJTC on the Principles their tribunals should follow from the point of view of a first time unrepresented user and a customer service consultant – in the process and observing the process. Did I win?
Read all about it here – TRIBUNALS FOR BEGINNERS – A First Timer’s Experience of the Residential Property Tribunal Service
The Moore Adamson Craig Partnership supports user and public participation, trains lay representatives and develops responsive health, care and education organisations.