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The general definition of a tribunal is that of a person, a special institution set up to look in into cases or disputes (Great Britain Law Commission, 2007). They are usually set up on short-term basis and do not necessarily represent formal court proceedings. They are set up to look in to specific issues that are believed the existing courts cannot handle adequately. Tribunals in most cases are made up of people with specialized knowledge in that are in dispute.
Various types of tribunals exist to serve specific legal issues and areas. They a entities given the authority to look in to cases, try suspects and pass judgment based on the evidence gathered. This evidence is usually collected by the special body of the tribunal and is independent of the renowned police or government investigators. Their decisions and deliberations are usually final and binding among all the concerned parties in the dispute. Depending on the issue, at hand such a tribunal sitting can be either open or closed. An open tribunal is one in which the public is allowed access to follow the proceedings. A closed tribunal on the other hand is one in which proceedings occur behind closed doors and the public is only given the findings (Harris, 2007).
In most cases, tribunals are set up to look into matters of international concern such as crimes against humanity, genocide, acts of treason, or acts of terrorism. Tribunals within a country, for example, looking in to murder can have in its seating, members of that particular country only or made up of outsiders. For instance in Rwanda, a special tribunal was set up to investigate the 1994 Genocide. The panel of judges was made up of Rwandese nationals as well as foreigners (Watkins and Weber, 2006).
Therefore, tribunals are independent of the state within which it is formed. Its findings are only subject to interpretation of the state and the state has no control on how the findings are implemented. This essay discusses various tribunals that are usually set up vis a vis the medical tribunals, employment tribunals, military tribunals as well as advantages and disadvantages compared to formal court processes.
A military tribunal is a type of court specifically put up to try members of the enemy state. After wars, many members of the enemy state are usually held captive. Upon the end of the conflict, they are usually, tried and detained. The decision on what kind of action to take against these captives usually rest on the disgrace of a military tribunal. The judges in such a sitting are made of military officers who are well conversant with legal proceedings governing such issues. However, such tribunals are more often than not confused with courts-martial. The U.S, for instance, has made extensive use of military tribunals to charge and judge members its enemy state. They were used in the US for example after the infamous civil war. These sittings are usually held in that state that captured the enemy forces.
A military tribunal can decide in either favor and just like every other tribunal, their decisions are final and binding. Military tribunals are usually based on accounts that occurred during the time conflict and nothing else. Moreover, they do not handle civilian cases at any one given time. A military tribunal can also be set up tom look allegations of treason. For instance, a soldier can appear before a military tribunal tom answer to accounts of treason.
They are also known as industrial tribunals. Originally, they were made up of judicial sittings of a lawyer, who is seats as the chairperson and someone appointed by the employer association. They were set up to hear and make legally binding decisions relating to employment issues. Later they changed its name to employment tribunal though their functions remained primarily the same. Such tribunals usually look in to disputes relating to employment issues. For instance, the workers union in a country can form a tribunal to look in to the existing salary. They may be formed to look in to the existing policies and regulations governing jodb procurement and remuneration.
In an employment tribunal, the party is required to present a complaint either in person a dully-completed claim form to an employment tribunal within a specified timeframe. The party defending the claim on the other hand is expected to present a response form to the same sitting. The tribunal has the authority to reject both the claim form and the response form if either is not presented in the right form. This tribunal is governed by strict time limit rules. The widely applicable period is three months failure by any of the parties to present their forms leads to automatic dismissal of the dispute.
Thirdly, we shall consider medical tribunals. These are special sittings designed to look into medical-related issues. They look into claims of medical malpractices for instance. These judicial sittings are made up of medical professionals who have adequate knowledge on the medical issues at hand. For instance, a tribunal can best set up to investigate allegations of a patient having been given a prescription that was detrimental (Speaight, 2009).
These tribunals have a unique feature different from the other forms of tribunals as they are primarily closed in nature. Due to the confidentiality that surrounds medical records, for instance, it requires that these sittings be done behind closed doors. They are usually based on thoroughly gathered evidence and judgment passed based on medically set standards and rule of law.
These tribunals are set up because of their distinct advantages. To start with, tribunals are preferred to and not the formal court proceeding because of the comprehensive way of looking into issues. Judgment is passed based on well-investigated cases and not merely shoddy investigative procedures. Because of the adequate resources allocated to these tribunals, it ensures that thorough investigation is done before judgment is passed.
Secondly, there is an advantage of objectivity. They are made up of professionals who uphold objectivity in there proceedings. Unlike the regular court sittings, tribunals are ruled by the principle of objectivity. Regular court proceedings are known tom fall short of this feature compared to tribunals. Objectivity results from the independence the tribunals enjoy from the states in which they are. Thirdly, is the advantage of independence. Formation, proceedings, investigations, trials, and judgment is independent of the state. They are free from the influence of the government and every other of their activities and enjoy independence.
Finally, tribunals are fast and do not drag on for long as is normally witnessed with ordinary court proceedings. When a tribunal is set up, it is formed for a specific function and is to be dissolved on completion of its function. They therefore, do not take long as ordinary court-based cases as they tackle that particular issue for which they were set (Mitchell, 2008).
However, these tribunals come with a handful of disadvantages. They short comings however few they are can cost the whole process. For example, tribunals are considered to be marred by a number of irregularities in their formation. According to critics, tribunals are made up of some particular members who are not appointed on merit but for the sole purpose of protecting the interests of those who set them up.
Secondly, is the inability to be fully free of the influence of the states within which they are formed. For instance, in the event that a local tribunal is formed to investigate violence perpetrated by members of its political class, it is subject to influence from top government officials and therefore automatically costs the objectivity of its proceedings. The members are usually not appointed because of their qualification or appropriateness in the job but in order to defend the interests of the ruling class (Forbes, 2006).
To conclude, it suffices to say that, tribunals are court proceedings that fall short of formality. The setting of tribunals represent those of court proceedings as they are conducted in a similar sitting comprising of defendants, complainants and lawyers who represent them. Tribunals could be set up to sue other parties on behalf of a group of people, an individual, or the state as a whole.
The tribunals are not meant to look in to matters that can be looked into by the ordinary court proceedings but are meant to tackle issues that are regarded to be beyond the comprehensive solutions by the existing legal institutions. Essentially, tribunals act as subordinate courts. However, their formulation and mandate are designed for a specific purpose. Therefore, it is a special court sitting. It has its own laws and exceptional terms of engagements for the participants. Usually, a tribunal ends with recommendations for action that is contained in a report presented to the appointing authority. Sometimes, for unforeseen circumstances a tribunal can be disbanded by the appointing or forming authority. Central governments often fund most tribunals. However, international jurisdiction bodies can form their own tribunals to investigate a case that it cannot handle.