I’ve recently been involved with a couple of hearings where no judge was available, so we all trooped off home (at significant expense for my client).
So I did some research on recovering those wasted costs from the famed MOJ Compensation Fund.
Apparently there is no ‘fund’, as such. Rather, service managers at each tribunal centre have discretion to make payments. My assistant rang round the tribunals to see what the practice was in different regions. Most service managers wouldn’t take her call. Of the few that did, the consistent response was:-
- they take decisions about compensation on the facts of each case (what facts? Everyone wasted costs because no judge was available – how are any of those cases fact-sensitive?)
- they don’t apply any formal (or informal) criteria – it just depends on the case
Whilst I don’t feel strongly enough about this to launch an e-petition and force a debate in parliament (like that would happen), it’s poor practice that these important decisions – relating to the state keeping up its end of the social (and now fee-paid) contract – should depend on the whim on a local service manager who isn’t even purporting to apply consistent or fair criteria.