Key point

  • The number of property-related chambers and tribunals is reduced to just two: a first tier and an upper tier.

Background

On 1 July 2013, The First-tier Tribunal and Upper Tribunal (Chambers) (Amendment) Order 2013 comes into force, together with three other connected statutory instruments. The effect of this Order differs between England and Wales but, in essence, the Leasehold Valuation Tribunal (LVT), the Rent Assessment Committee, the Rent Tribunal, the Residential Property Tribunal, the Adjudicator to HM Land Registry (HMLR) and the Agricultural Land Tribunal are (in England) all being abolished.

The functions of these various bodies are being transferred to the First-tier Tribunal (Property Chamber). In Wales, there is a mixture of functions being abolished, transferred and retained (depending on whether a function has already been devolved to Wales or not).

Where the transfer takes place, cases that would previously have been taken to these various tribunals etc will now be started in what will, surely, come to be referred to simply as the Property Chamber. Cases that are already underway with one of these bodies will automatically be transferred to the Property Chamber.

More thought will be required when bringing an appeal from a Property Chamber decision. Depending on the "content" of the case, an appeal will lie either to the Upper Tier (Lands Chamber) or to the Upper Tier (Tax and Chancery Chamber). Generally, it will be the former, with the latter being the appeal body only in relation to cases that fall into the category of land registration.

Things to consider

For most of us, this change will involve simply a new set of "names" which we must get used to. For others, especially those involved in property litigation of one sort or another, it will be necessary to take any claim to - and lodge any appeal with - the correct body, using the correct forms and terminology. And all work involving the new Chamber will need to be carried out in accordance with new rules. There is to be a single set of core rules and regulations, but with each of the "source jurisdictions" having some of its own unique elements. These are detailed in The Tribunal Procedure (First-tier Tribunal) (Property Chamber) Rules 2013 (the 2013 Rules), which also come into force on 1 July 2013.

Costs may need to be dealt with differently as well, depending again on the source jurisdiction. For example, in what would have been an LVT case, each party will now tend to bear its own costs, unless there has been unreasonable conduct. For a case which would have come before the Adjudicator to HMLR, the practice of "full costs shifting" (i.e. the loser pays) will continue. As one might expect, there are some exceptions to these general rules. Finer details such as these are laid out in the 2013 Rules.