The Federation Press

Justice in Tribunals


Justice in Tribunals is a specialist work on the common law and statutory rules governing decisions of administrative tribunals, executive officers, government departments, professional societies, commercial associations, trades unions, sporting bodies, social clubs and political parties, affecting the rights of individuals. It explains the different procedures used to challenge statutory as well as private ("domestic”) rulings. Previous editions have been cited with approval by courts in New Zealand and several Australian jurisdictions.

This new edition goes well beyond the generalities of “natural justice” to examine numerous examples of that ideal in action. They are arranged according to various stages of decision-making - notice of the charge or claim, urgent action, legal representation, standards of proof, significance of the law of evidence, procedure at the hearing, errors of law or due process, and the articulation of reasons for a decision.

A special chapter deals with the conduct of public inquiries, such as Royal Commissions, which do not formally determine rights and duties of individuals.


Reviews of previous editions:

The text considers both tribunals established by statute, and the ones that exist as a result of consensus; such as those in sporting or social organisations, political parties and churches, and described as “domestic tribunals”. It explains the limitations in relation to remedies available for the domestic tribunal…
The principles of natural justice receive extensive attention … A chapter is devoted to apprehended and actual bias. The “growth area” of commissions of inquiry and their judicial oversight to ensure natural justice is afforded to witnesses, also receives extensive attention.
Justice in Tribunals is a compact text, in hard cover and will be an invaluable addition to the library of those who wish to gain a complete understanding of administrative law. - Victorian Bar News, Spring 2006

Whilst it is not clear from its title whether its primary subject is tribunals or the review of tribunals, [Justice in Tribunals] proves (happily) to comprehensively and perceptibly cover both, often tending to focus upon the review process to identify the principles which tribunals should apply. By adopting this approach, tribunal activity and its review are both able to be addressed clearly and succinctly.
… a recommended addition to the bookshelves of all those involved in the work of tribunals.
The work retains the format of earlier editions, which is both helpful and testimony to the suitability of that format to the subject. It takes the reader in a logical sequence through the whole range of issues fundamental to ensuring a valid hearing and a sustainable decision; the circumstances in which those issues might vary according to the nature of the hearing; and many of the practical issues which might confront a tribunal in relation to the conduct of a hearing the preparation of reasons for a decision but which are not readily found in most law book (e.g. at Chapter 6.8–6.10).
I particularly recommend the book for its excellent treatment in Chapters 7–16 of the principles of procedural fairness…
… a book well worth having. - Law Letter, No 94, Summer 2006

Questions which regularly arise in relation to proceedings before a tribunal are:

Do I have a right to be heard?
Am I entitled to legal representation?
Must natural justice be observed?
At what stage does natural justice kick in?
Should I be provided with reasons for decision by the tribunal?

This text answers these questions and many more. … - Ethos No 190 (Law Society of the ACT), December 2003

Justice in Tribunals provides a thoughtful and comprehensive analysis of the intertwining of common law and statutory developments in this burgeoning field. … Increasingly the courts provide those affected by decisions of private tribunals with an avenue for review, and consequently there is developing a substantial body of administrative law principles applicable to such tribunals. Justice in Tribunals provides a significant guide into the development and application of these principles. The author is to be commended on this new text which follows on and develops the excellent early work of Disciplinary Tribunals. The book provides clear guidance in the rapidly developing area of the law applicable particularly to domestic tribunals, their practice and procedure. - Victorian Bar News, Winter 2002

The book deals with both statutory and ‘domestic’ tribunals of clubs and other private organisations as well as ‘hybrid’ tribunals such as those found in the racing industry where a club or organisation is given statutory recognition. Dr Forbes is a member of a Queensland tribunal and his book is both an excellent introduction to and reference work on administrative law principles in their application to tribunals.
A large part of the work is devoted to the principles of natural justice, with a vast array of cases noted, from those stating general principles to the detailed consideration of the application of those principles to different types of tribunals.
… [There is] a new chapter titled “Non-Determinative Inquiries” concerning royal commissions and other commissions of inquiry.
Other issues dealt with include restraint of trade at common law and under the Trade Practices Act and, with it, the demarcation of livelihood/non-livelihood cases. [There is] a substantial chapter on remedies …
[I]n considering how proceedings should be conducted or whether and how they might be successfully challenged, one could hardly do better than to start with this book.
It would be a worthy addition to the libraries of specialist and non-specialist practitioners alike. - Law Society Journal (NSW), April 2003

[A]n effective and practical understanding of the issues that relate to [tribunals'] operation is an important part of many legal practitioners day to day practice.
This book is comprehensive and detailed in its analysis … [and is] one I would recommend to ptractitioners who want a detailed and considered perspective of justice in tribunals and to students who are seriously examining the area. - Balance (Law Society of the NT), February 2003

Table of Contents

Table of Cases
Table of Statutes and Statutory Instruments

1. The Scope of This Text
2. Jurisdiction over Statutory Tribunals
3. Judicial Control of Domestic Tribunals in Non-Livelihood Cases
4. Private Tribunals and Restraint of Trade
5. Statutory Jurisdiction over Domestic Tribunals
6. Legal Error (Natural Justice Aside)
7. Natural Justice: General
8. Commencing Proceedings: A Right to be Heard?
9. Urgent Action and the Right to be Heard
10. Notice of the Hearing
11. Does Natural Justice Imply a Right to Counsel?
12. The Hearing
13. Are Reasons Part of a Fair Hearing?
14. Can There Be Fairness Without an Internal Appeal?
15. The Twin Pillar: The Rule Against Bias
16. Remedies
17. Non-Determinative Inquiries


Of interest...