Minutes of the 1st meeting of the Upper Tribunal Lands Chamber Users Group Meeting on 18 March 2021

 

Current work of Tribunal

Work fluctuates due to “volume” compulsory purchase compensation claims
Pandemic has reduced work in a number of areas – FTT appeals (down 30-35%). Rating appeals (down 80%). Other claims (compensation, telecoms) (down 20%) (but telecoms claims are increasing)
This is driven in large part by the fact that the first tier tribunals were not fully operating for a large part of 2020, however, case levels are now increasing again.

Timescales

Waiting times – target for application for permission to appeal (3 months) – almost always met. 6-8 months for the appeal to be heard
First instance cases – 12 -16 months.
Section 84 applications – around 18 months
Tribunal will generally fit to sensible timetables agreed by the parties
Where there is a pressure on regional venues due to Covid backlog, hearings will be listed in London unless the parties object
Tribunal would like to get back to in person hearings asap – likely to be a few more months. Experience is that remote hearings are second best. They take longer and evidence is more difficult to assess.
Some types of work will continue remotely – case management (although parties may wish to attend in person where there are substantive issues)
Tribunal will be receptive to requests for virtual hearings (ie. for health witnesses). Alternatively, arrangements can be made for specific evidence to be taken remotely.

Practice Directions

Statements of case are unnecessarily long, argumentative and expensive
Parties encouraged to agree limited disclosure
Tribunal culture is not punitive. Tribunal will be flexible where parties are able to co-operate and agree a way forward.
Tribunal Judges are accessible and receptive to on-going communication/dialogue and case management
Request for feedback on using the new PDs in practice

CE-File

Being extended to the UT from 7 June (tbc)
Draft Practice note deals with this
Will not become compulsory before the end of the year (and then only for professional users)

Experts

Practice direction codifies UT’s approach
Parties encouraged to consider whether expert evidence needed and, if so, what issues
Tribunal will streamline where disproportionate
Experts to co-operate with each other more generally
Limit unnecessary appendices to reports
Experts to provide a range of views where necessary and consider alternatives if other side’s assumptions are correct

AOB

Costs statements not required prior to hearing
Views invited on pro bono representation – should there be a structure for unrepresented parties to obtain representation in the tribunal? If so, how?