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Tribunal User Groups

Dan Manville
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Greater Manchester Law Centre

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We’ve had a TUG announced up here in’t grey lands. First one since the madness befell everyone.

I wondered whether there has been a spate of TUGs announced recently or whether ours is an outlier. After so long without it wouldn’t surprise me if there’s loads due.

Peter Turville
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Welfare rights worker - Oxford Community Work Agency

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Dan Manville - 21 October 2021 02:56 PM

We’ve had a TUG announced up here in’t grey lands. First one since the madness befell everyone.

I wondered whether there has been a spate of TUGs announced recently or whether ours is an outlier. After so long without it wouldn’t surprise me if there’s loads due.

Hi Dan
In our area we had an on-line TUG during the madness - so about the only part of HMCTS not affected ....

Mike Hughes
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Senior welfare rights officer - Salford City Council Welfare Rights Service

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I am a massive admirer of those HMCTS blog things. (insert sarcastic emoji). The ones where they tell everyone how well they have engaged with “stakeholders” during the pandemic. Clearly I am not a stakeholder and live in an entirely separate universe.

Looking forward to the Manchester TUG. The face to face one used to be useful for the relationships you could forge at the end of meetings. Occasionally useful for the contents too. The last decade has been a stage managed utter waste of time and space. Their admin are the very definition of a tail wagging the dog.

It’s very hard trying to think of original questions which don’t begin with “Given that nothing has changed in 30 years…”

Paul Stockton
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Epping Forest CAB

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Dan Manville - 21 October 2021 02:56 PM

We’ve had a TUG announced up here in’t grey lands. First one since the madness befell everyone.

I wondered whether there has been a spate of TUGs announced recently or whether ours is an outlier. After so long without it wouldn’t surprise me if there’s loads due.

To quote the Monty Python Yorkshiremen sketch: “You were lucky…” I signed up to TUG years ago but have never been notified of a meeting, virtual or real. As our cases are administered either in Sutton or Bradford, and the phone/video/paper hearings are “located” anywhere from Basildon to High Wycombe, via central London, it’s not even clear which region we’re supposed to be in. The identity and location of the regional judge is a closely guarded secret.

Does anyone know of a way of signing up to TUGs?

[ Edited: 22 Oct 2021 at 05:57 pm by Paul Stockton ]
past caring
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Welfare Rights Adviser - Southwark Law Centre, Peckham

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Paul Stockton - 22 October 2021 11:10 AM

Does anyone know of a way of signing up to TUGs?

TBH I think they’re a waste of time. Back in the dim and distant past I think they really did serve some purpose, especially when chaired by the more senior judges in our region - they actually listened and did want to improve things where there was a genuine issue.

These days, when we’re all ‘stakeholders’ who HMCTS will ‘consult’, I get the impression that even the senior judges have as little influence on HMCTS practices as we do as reps. For example, I asked a colleague attending a TUG in Spring to bring up what has become a bit of a bugbear for me - that is, the practice of sending literally everything out by second class post. Obviously, that creates problems for us, particularly with directions notices, decision notices and statements of reasons as these are now regularly received some 10-12 working days after being posted. As I asked, my colleague did point out that the standard one month time limit is predicated on a presumption that anything to which such a time limit applies will be sent by first class post. The response? “If you miss the time limit because of this you can explain that in any application you make and that will be given due consideration. But we’re not going to change this.” That, of course, from a HMCTS manager - quite apparent that the judges are as unable to influence this as we are….....

Mike Hughes
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Senior welfare rights officer - Salford City Council Welfare Rights Service

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I have to say I have largely concluded the same in respect of TUGs.

Attended one recently where the chair (an otherwise excellent judge) had the look of a rabbit in the headlights reading from a prepared statement whilst the Regional Judge watched on. It was cringe making. In other times we’d have had a word for it ending in ...ist.

TUGs are basically where the admin. tail wags the judicial dog and we all pretend to not notice.

CHAC Adviser
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Caseworker - CHAC, Middlesbrough

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Mike Hughes - 08 December 2021 03:19 PM

TUGs are basically where the admin. tail wags the judicial dog and we all pretend to not notice.

It does seem to be the way doesn’t it? We’ve not had a TUG up here since before the pandemic (unless I’m no longer invited!!) but I do recall a HMCTS webinar during autumn 2020 or perhaps spring 2021 talking about how things were going during the pandemic and I recall one of the big boss admin types talking about how telephone hearings had been working really well and in the future would likely form a more prominent part of their work. Whilst I was sat there thinking to myself “Now ask some reps, appellants and how about some of your own judges what they think and I bet the answer would be very different as to the suitability of telephone hearings as the primary form of tribunal”

You’d think the judges would have more power to direct how their Tribunals are run. But I guess not!