Nature of Administrative Tribunals: Constitution, Powers, Procedures, and Rules of Evidence

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The Nature of Administrative Tribunals: Constitution, Powers, Procedures, and Rules of Evidence

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Administrative tribunals play a crucial role in the administrative justice system by providing specialized expertise in resolving disputes and making decisions in various areas of governance. This article explores the nature of administrative tribunals, delving into their constitution, powers, procedures, and rules of evidence. By examining these aspects, we gain a comprehensive understanding of the unique characteristics and functioning of administrative tribunals.

Understanding Administrative Tribunals

Definition and Purpose

Administrative tribunals are quasi-judicial bodies established by statute or executive order to resolve disputes within specific domains of administrative law. They operate outside the traditional court system and are designed to address matters that require specialized knowledge and expertise. The primary purpose of administrative tribunals is to provide efficient, accessible, and expert decision-making within their respective areas of jurisdiction.

Distinction from Courts

While administrative tribunals share similarities with courts, there are notable distinctions. Tribunals are created to address specific areas of administrative law, whereas courts have broader jurisdiction. Tribunals typically follow less formal procedures than courts, aiming for a more accessible and efficient dispute resolution process. Additionally, tribunals often consist of members with expertise in the relevant field, allowing for informed decision-making within specialized areas.

Constitution of Administrative Tribunals

Legislative Authorization

Administrative tribunals are established through legislative authority, which outlines their jurisdiction, powers, and composition. The enabling legislation defines the scope of the tribunal’s authority, the appointment process for tribunal members, and the procedures to be followed. This legislative framework provides the foundation for the constitution and functioning of administrative tribunals.

Appointment of Tribunal Members

The appointment process for tribunal members varies across jurisdictions. Some tribunals consist of full-time, professional members who possess specialized knowledge in the relevant field. Others may include part-time members who contribute their expertise alongside their primary professional roles. The appointment process typically involves a balance of expertise, independence, and diversity to ensure fair and impartial decision-making.

Independence and Impartiality

The independence and impartiality of administrative tribunals are vital to their effective functioning. Members of tribunals are expected to act objectively and without bias. Measures are in place to safeguard their independence, such as fixed terms of appointment, protection against removal without cause, and provisions for adequate remuneration. These safeguards help maintain public confidence in the integrity and fairness of administrative tribunal decisions.

Powers and Jurisdiction of Administrative Tribunals

Statutory Authority

Administrative tribunals derive their powers and jurisdiction from the enabling legislation that establishes them. The legislation outlines the types of matters that fall within the tribunal’s purview and grants it the authority to make binding decisions in those areas. This statutory authority empowers tribunals to interpret legislation, hear evidence, conduct inquiries, and render decisions within their designated jurisdiction.

Quasi-Judicial Powers

Administrative tribunals possess quasi-judicial powers, allowing them to exercise certain judicial functions. These powers include the ability to summon witnesses, compel the production of documents, administer oaths, and make determinations on matters of fact and law. While tribunals lack the full range of powers held by courts, their quasi-judicial authority enables them to effectively fulfill their dispute resolution mandate.

Procedures of Administrative Tribunals

Informality and Accessibility

Administrative tribunals are designed to provide accessible and efficient dispute resolution. Unlike courts, they often adopt less formal procedures, allowing for a more user-friendly process. This informality aims to reduce costs, enhance accessibility, and facilitate the participation of individuals and organizations involved in tribunal proceedings. However, despite the informality, tribunals still ensure fairness, adherence to legal principles, and respect for procedural rights.

Adjudicatory Process

The adjudicatory process of administrative tribunals typically involves the following steps:

  1. Notice: Parties involved are notified of the hearing or proceedings.
  2. Evidence: Parties present their evidence, which can include witness testimony, documents, and expert reports.
  3. Examination and Cross-Examination: Parties have the opportunity to examine and cross-examine witnesses to test their credibility and the reliability of their evidence.
  4. Legal Submissions: Parties present their legal arguments and submissions based on the evidence presented.
  5. Decision: The tribunal renders a decision based on the evidence, submissions, and applicable law within its jurisdiction.

Rules of Evidence in Administrative Tribunals

Flexibility and Discretion

Administrative tribunals have the flexibility to adapt and modify the rules of evidence to suit the specific needs of the proceedings. While they are guided by principles of fairness and natural justice, tribunals can depart from strict rules of evidence followed in courts. This flexibility allows tribunals to consider a broader range of evidence, including expert opinions, industry practices, and policy considerations relevant to the subject matter.

Weight and Admissibility of Evidence

Administrative tribunals evaluate evidence based on its relevance, reliability, and probative value. While they have the authority to admit a wide range of evidence, including hearsay and documentary evidence, they also exercise discretion in assigning weight to different types of evidence. Tribunals assess the credibility and persuasive value of the evidence presented to reach an informed decision.


Administrative tribunals form an integral part of the administrative justice system, providing specialized expertise and streamlined procedures in resolving disputes. By understanding the constitution, powers, procedures, and rules of evidence that govern these tribunals, we gain valuable insights into their unique nature and functioning. Administrative tribunals contribute to the efficiency, accessibility, and expertise of the administrative justice system, ensuring fair and informed decision-making within specialized domains.