First Tier Tribunals

Their literature is disarming and friendly, but the experience can be threatening

These were intended to be an improvement over Courts for most leasehold disputes. Fortunately they are held in public and those intending to use them are able to visit them first.

  • There are ongoing disputes about what a Tribunal may adjudicate.
  • Cases can sometimes be divided between Court and Tribunal.
  • Leaseholders cannot re-claim their costs if they win.
  • Freeholders can put the costs into the service charge unless prevented by a prior request to the Tribunal.
  • A case could cost more than was lost.

There is a panel of three. This consists of two relevant experts and a ‘lay’ member who is an expert in some other field.

They cannot accept anything but an academic level in argument, which is of course inevitable given their own background.

Their literature is disarming and friendly, but the experience can be threatening for all but the professional expert, and without one there is almost no chance of success.

The Tribunal pamphlet says:

‘You should make appeals and applications directly to your local offices (listed overleaf). You will simply need to include all the information you have about the issues in dispute. In some case you may need to fill in a form. If in doubt the staff at your local panel office can advise you’ (rpts leaflet ref gnl-6/03)

A reading of previous cases on the Tribunal web site (www.rpts.gov.uk) shows this to be a great over simplification. Leaseholders must be prepared to produce evidence to an academic standard, and using technical terms. Simply ‘including all the information you have about the issue in dispute’ will not be sufficient.