The Senior President of Tribunals, the Rt Hon Sir Ernest Ryder, has today published his 2020 Annual Report.
It is his sixth report as Senior President, and also his last, prior to his retirement. He has held the role for five years.
In his foreword to the report, he talks about the huge impact the COVID-19 pandemic has had on tribunal judges, members and staff alike this year.
Sir Ernest said: “The response of the tribunals was to ensure that, by leadership of the tribunals justice system, we could keep the tribunals open, providing urgent decision-making for our most vulnerable users.
“We designed a suite of emergency legislative provisions, rule changes, practice directions and guidance to facilitate that aim. Overnight we changed from paper-based face-to-face hearings to remote hearings by audio and video means, using new technology and a host of innovative workarounds provided by judges and staff alike. A four-phase recovery plan was published using administrative instructions to explain what we wanted to happen.”
He added that, in parallel with reform and recovery planning, they have maintained change programmes throughout the year.
Reference is made to the diversity of the tribunals judiciary. The published statistics on judicial diversity can be found online (opens in a new tab).
Sir Ernest added: “Retirement allows for some reflection. In my case, it is how lucky I have been. I have had a team second to none and I leave with a final thank you to them.”