Reforming the Information Tribunal

A letter was circulated yesterday (4th August) to “stakeholders” of the Information Tribunal, giving information about the implications for the Information Tribunal of the new unified tribunal structure.

The new structure involves a system of First Tier tribunals and Upper Tribunals. The Information Tribunal will be one of a number of tribunals that transfer into the General Regulatory Chamber (GRC), one of the First Tier tribunals.

According to the letter, from January 2010 information rights cases will generally be heard in the GRC, with an appeal to the Administrative Appeals Chambers of the Upper Tribunal on a point of law. However, in some circumstances cases will be heard in the first instance in the Upper Tribunal. This will be where the appeal is complex, unusual, or particularly important. In additional national security appeals (under section 28 of the Data Protection Act 1998 or section 60 of the Freedom of Information Act 2000) will go straight to the Upper Tribunal.

The procedural rules for those tribunals moving into the GRC in September 2009 have now been finalised and laid before Parliament. This includes the Charity Tribunal, the Estate Agents Appeals Panel and the Consumer Credit Appeals Tribunal. For those jurisdictions moving to the GRC in January 2010 – including the Information Tribunal – any further specific procedural rules will be added by amendment once Parliament has approved the transfer. Approval is expected later this year.