It’s been promised for a while now. The merger of the LVT (in its various forms, RAC, RPT, etc) into the Tribunal Service as a First Tier Tribunal. And so we finally have the details. In Consultation on proposed new (First Tier Tribunal) (Property Chamber) Rules 2013, the MoJ has given us details of the proposed new Property Chamber, what it will do and how it will work.
In outline, it is proposed that the Property Chamber will cover:
(a) the Adjudicator to HM Land Registry (England and Wales);
(b) RAC; RT; RPT; LVT and Agricultural Land Tribunal (England only).
This is annoying. Different rules in England and Wales is, frankly, silly. Please, please, please can the Welsh Assembly issue – NOW – it’s own consultation paper on this, changing their rules to the same as England.
Anyway, the new rules are a vast improvement over the old LVT rules. In general terms, they’re based on the generic First Tier Tribunal rules. This is a good thing, so, for example, there is now an overriding objective akin to the Civil Procedure Rules and much expansed case managmeent powers (rules 2 and 5), including powers to impose sanctions for non-compliance with directions (rule 7) and even striking a party out (rule 8). I’m not enamoured of rule 12, which permits anyone to appear as a representative before the LVT (legally qualified or not). Not, I hasten to add, because I want to see more lawyers coming to the LVT, but because there is a bit of a growth industry in champertous advocacy arrangements in the LVT and I’d like to see them squashed. A new power to hear evidence on oath is introduced (rule 16), as are witness summons powers (rule 18). Interestingly, there is a power to transfer complex cases to the Upper Tribunal without first having the LVT decide them (I’m not sure how used this will be in practice; the LVT doesn’t take well to being told it’s too stupid to be trusted to decide something properly, even though it’s often true).
Dare I say it? These are quite good rules. Perhaps the LVT will now stop making things up as they go along? (Or treating it like “pub pool” as one correspondent suggested). The draft rules and consultation paper is here. Responses by September 6, 2012.