I imagine the code of civil procedure as something that is set out and expected by courts. However I know it to be quite elaborate and technical, and not the most accessible to a lay man.

Tribunals meanwhile are set out with the purpose of making certain types of legal actions/disputes of wider interest much more accessible to the common lay man.

Do tribunals then expect petitioners to adhere to the civil rules of procedure and especially their pre-action protocol?

2 Answers 2



Per CPR Rule 2.1, the rules (which include practice directions and the pre-action protocols) only apply to the County Court, the High Court, and the Court of Appeal.

For Tribunals, you need to consult the rules which are specific to your Tribunal. For example, the rules governing the First Tier Tribunal (Property Chamber) are the Tribunal Procedure (First-tier Tribunal) (Property Chamber) Rules 2013.

Generally Tribunal procedures are less strict than the CPR. This is due to the rules themselves being less strict, but also from the overriding objective; see e.g. Rule 3(2)(b) of the above Tribunal Rules which provides: "[Dealing with a case fairly and justly includes] avoiding unnecessary formality and seeking flexibility in the proceedings".

  • I'm slightly tempted to just edit the answer myself to correct this because it does seem clear to me but I just want to make sure: do the "rules" include the practice directions as well as the pre action protocols as you state? Commented Aug 10, 2022 at 9:43
  • Otherwise, thanks! Commented Aug 10, 2022 at 9:47

It depends on the legislation that sets up the tribunal

Tribunals are government or private decision makers and they must act within and adhere to the powers given to them by Parliament. Just like a Minister of the Crown, or the clerk at the motor registry must.

Unlike a court, a tribunal must follow the law they are given. A court can decide what the law is.

Therefore, it’s impossible to say, in general, what discretion tribunals have with respect to their procedures. If a specific procedure is mandated by statute, they have no discretion: a decision made that doesn’t follow that procedure is void. Or the legislation may give the tribunal wide discretion about the procedure.

For example, consider adjudication and arbitration. Both are legislatively authorised private dispute resolution mechanisms where the decision maker acts quasi-judicially.

An adjudicator has no discretion to vary the strict timeframes in the legislation and must consider only the things the legislation tells them to consider and must not consider anything else. If they stray outside those parameters, the decision is void.

An arbitrator must decide the dispute using the procedures the parties have chosen, either in their arbitration agreement or during the arbitration. If they can’t agree the procedure, then the arbitrator is empowered to decide on the procedure. Similar decisions are available about whether and to what extent rules of evidence will be followed. Usually this involves adopting the rules of an arbitration association but if the parties agree the dispute will be resolved by the arbitrator tossing a coin, the legislation allows this.

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