There may be a massive backlog of benefits appeals and claimants may be waiting eight months from claim to appeal, but Her Majesty’s Courts and Tribunals Service (HMCTS) knows what really matters. Which is why they’ve decided to change the rules about what you should call a tribunal judge.
According to the most recent tribunal statistics, the number of outstanding appeals is up 63% on last year – it now stands at 59,000 cases - but the number of hearings completed is down 16%.
The number of outstanding cases has actually been rising for the last three quarters and, with record numbers of PIP claims, things are only likely to get worse.
Claimants with complex health conditions and a desperate lack of money are being forced to wait many months to get justice, with 71% of PIP claimants eventually winning their case when they finally get a hearing.
Yet the Lord Chief Justice and the Senior President of Tribunals have chosen this moment to release a joint message entitled ‘Modes of address in courts and tribunals’ which details a change in the way judges in courts and tribunals are addressed.
First-tier and Upper tribunal judges should now be addressed as ‘Judge’, rather than ‘Sir or Madam’.
Lord Burnett of Maldon and Sir Keith Lindblom explain that “The move away from ‘Sir or Madam’ involves modern and simple terminology, reflecting the important judicial role whilst maintaining the necessary degree of respect. We also hope this change in language will assist litigants in person involved in court and tribunal proceedings.”
Here at Benefits and Work, we feel that catching up on the backlog of appeals would assist litigants in person a great deal more. But we will, nevertheless, be updating our appeals guides to reflect the change.