History of the Upper Tribunal, Lands Chamber

The Upper Tribunal, Lands Chamber traces its origins back to just after the Second World War. Along with the separate Lands Tribunal for Scotland it was brought into being by the Lands Tribunal Act, 1949 and it was as the Lands Tribunal that it existed from 1 January 1950 until 31 May 2009. From the outset the members of the Tribunal consisted of both judges and Chartered Surveyors experienced in valuing land and property, supported by a team of administrators and registrars.

Initially, the Tribunal’s main functions were to assess compensation for the effect of wartime bomb damage on property in England and Wales, to value property for Estate Duty, to assess compensation for the value of land compulsorily acquired for public purposes or for loss of development potential, to decide certain rating appeals, and to consider application to discharge or modify covenants restricting the use of land. Those jurisdictions continue to make up much of the Tribunal’s current case load.

In the decades since 1950, further jurisdictions broadly concerned with the value of land have been added to the Tribunal’s workload, including: since 1967, the determination of disputes (and later appeals) about the price to be paid by tenants exercising the right of enfranchisement of leasehold houses; since 1973, the assessment of compensation for damage caused to property as a result of public works; since 1987, the determination of appeals from lower tribunals in disputes about the appointment of a manager to take over responsibility from a failing landlord of leasehold property; since 1993, the determination of appeals from lower tribunals in disputes about the price payable by tenants wishing to extend the leases of flats or collectively to acquire the freehold of blocks of flats, and disputes between landlords and tenants over service charges; since 2004, the determination of appeals from lower tribunals in disputes about the exercise by local housing authorities of their powers to enforce better housing standards; and since 2017, the power to impose agreements conferring rights on the operators of electronic communications networks to install telecommunications equipment on land.

The Lands Tribunal remained in existence until 31 May 2009 when it was absorbed into the unified tribunal structure created by the Tribunals, Courts and Enforcement Act 2007 and became the Lands Chamber, 1 of the 4 Chambers of the Upper Tribunal, a superior court of record with comparable status to the High Court.