Where they sit and what they do
Most Chambers are headed by a president. The Senior President of Tribunals is the statutory head of those jurisdictions within the First-tier and Upper Tribunals. These tribunals bring together a number of individual tribunal jurisdictions into a single judicial structure where appeals from decisions of the First-tier Tribunal are heard by the Upper Tribunal. The First-tier and Upper tribunals are sub divided into ‘Chambers’ dealing with specific jurisdictions (for example the Social Entitlement Chambers covers social security and child support as well as asylum support and criminal injuries compensation) with a senior judicial leader (Chamber President) at its head. The exceptions to this are the Employment Tribunals which sit outside the unified structure as a separate pillar and are not referred to as a ‘Chamber’ but are still headed by a president.
Tribunal/Chamber Presidents lead the jurisdiction of Their tribunal, taking an active role in ensuring jurisprudential and practical consistency both in decision-making and in the setting and interpretation of practice and procedure throughout their Tribunal. They also lead the judges and members within their Chamber/Tribunal and are the first port of call on welfare matters.
Where a particular tribunal sits in panels, the Presidents will ensure that the approach to panel composition is such that, as far as practicable, cases are allocated to the members with the most relevant experience and expertise.
Each President will also consider carefully their tribunal’s requirements regarding recruitment and appointments in relation to the nature and number of the anticipated workload in that Chamber/Tribunal, and will then ensure that these requirements are communicated to those responsible for appointments.
Chamber/Tribunal presidents can be selected from the ranks of existing High Court Judges (in the case of the Upper Tribunal jurisdictions) or through open competitions run by the Judicial Appointments Commission in the case of the Employment Tribunals and the Chambers of the First-tier Tribunal.