UKAJI invites you to contribute to a discussion about what ‘administrative justice’ means. We are keen to explore not just what it means (as in defining its parameters) but also where it is, for example in practice and policy-making, in academic disciplines other than law, in everyday decisions that affect people’s everyday lives.
Here we re-visit an exchange published 10 years ago by two members of the then Council on Tribunals, which became the Administrative Justice and Tribunals Council (AJTC). The AJTC was abolished in 2013 by the UK’s Coalition Government.
Join the discussion using the Comments box and let us know what administrative justice means to you.
This exchange between Brian and myself still seems reasonably fresh ten years later but the passage of time has not been as kind to administrative justice. The abolition of the AJTC, big reductions in legal aid and the absorption of tribunal justice into the court system don’t inspire confidence. Chairs are now judges. The potential of mediation is conflated with cost reduction and much more. The idea that good administration and good justice are equally relevant could be in retreat. The UKJI initiative is a glimmer of light but whilst any impetus for reform is centred in a cost-strapped Ministry of Justice, the prospects for a more rounded vision of AJ seem less than encouraging. Courts and tribunals sit at the end of the cycle of redress. Public services are increasingly delivered not just by local and central government but by a whole range of outsourced bodies and public / private partnerships with whom the MoJ has only modest involvement or empathy. It had difficulties enough building a sense of congruity with other government departments let alone local government or outsourced service providers. And the principles of AJ seem as relevant to private providers of services, such as banks and insurance companies in their relationship with customers as they did to me then. The centre of gravity needs to sit elsewhere. The diminution of the significance of AJ at a time when there has never been a more pressing need to espouse its values seems to me to be a structural problem as well as one of understanding.