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The First Tier Tribunal and the New Property Chamber

As of 1 July 2013, the Transfer of Tribunal Functions Order 2013 brought six Property Tribunals in England within the jurisdiction of the new First Tier Tribunal.

The Property Chamber of the First Tier Tribunal now incorporates:

  • Residential Property which includes the Residential Property Tribunal Service (RPTS) previously the Residential Property Tribunal, the Leasehold Valuation Tribunal, the Rent Tribunal and the Rent Assessment Committee
  • agricultural land and drainage, previously the Agricultural Lands Tribunal, and
  • Land Registry, previously the Adjudicator to HM Land Registry.

The Tribunal Procedure (First Tier Tribunal) (Property Chamber) Rules 2013 (“the Rules”) were also introduced to take effect from 1 July 2013. This introduces 56 new procedural rules which apply to all cases from 1 July 2013 (both historic and those commenced on or after 1 July 2013). However, transitional provisions apply so that the Tribunal may consider whether the old rules should apply in certain circumstances.

The new rules have been described as being more akin to the Civil Procedure Rules currently followed by the Court. This note does not intend to summarise all the changes but those considered most noteworthy and of which practitioners and users of the Tribunal would be well advised to take heed of.

Rule 3 - Overriding Objective

As with the Civil Procedure Rules, Rule 3 sets out the overriding objective of the Tribunal, namely that the purpose of the Rules is to ensure that cases are dealt with justly and fairly.

Rule 8 - Powers of Sanction

The Tribunal now has the power to take action against those parties who are in default of any directions made. This can include (but is not limited to):

  • waiving the requirement
  • requiring the failure to be remedied
  • exercising the power to strike out a party’s case under Rule 9
  • barring or restricting of parties participation in the proceedings.

Rule 9 - Strike Out

Rule 9 provides a specific power for the Tribunal to strike out a party’s case (part or all of it) on a discretionary basis on one of the following grounds:

  • failure to comply with directions
  • failure to cooperate with the Tribunal so that the Tribunal cannot deal with the proceedings fairly and justly
  • the proceedings are between the same parties and relate to issues that have already been decided 
  • the proceedings or the manner in which they have been conducted are considered to be frivolous, vexatious or otherwise an abuse of process of the Tribunal, or
  • there is no reasonable prospect of the case or part of it succeeding.

Costs - Rule 13

This particular rule is possibly of the most interest of all the changes. This is because the Leasehold Valuation Tribunal tended to be a “no costs” based procedure, where both sides bear their own costs if acting reasonably. Further, the LVT was only entitled to award up to £500 if a party acted unreasonably or vexatiously and in practice, Orders for costs were very rare.

The new Rules remove the costs cap, so there is now no limit as to the amount of costs that can be awarded. Pursuant to Rule 13, the Tribunal has the discretion to make an Order for costs where “a person has acted unreasonably in bringing, defending or conducting proceedings” which widens the previous power of the Tribunal to make a costs award. This will be of most interest to practitioners and industry specialists. In particular, we will be watching to see how the Tribunal will apply this particular cases going forward.

Disclosure and Evidence – Rule 18

Rule 18 sets out a number of directions which the Tribunal has the discretion to give in dealing with disclosure and evidence including that the Tribunal may require that evidence to be given on oath. It is anticipated that this rule will result in more formality and structure at the final Hearing.

Expert Evidence – Rule 19

Rule 19 is much aligned to the requirements of the Court Civil Procedure Rules in relation to expert evidence. In particular, Rule 19 sets out that the Expert’s duty to assist the Tribunal overrides any obligation to his or her client. It also requires the Expert Report to:

  • Contain a statement that the Expert understands his/her duty to the Tribunal.
  • Contain the following declaration “I believe that the facts stated in this report are true and that the opinions expressed are correct”.
  • Be addressed to the Tribunal.
  • Include details of the Expert qualification and relevant experience.
  • Contain a summary of the instructions the Expert has received for the making of the report.
  • Be signed by the Expert.


It is anticipated that the new Rules will achieve consistency over across the various Property Tribunals and create a more structured and formal approach to resolving disputes before the Tribunal. Parties will now need to take more care then ever to ensure they comply with directions made by the Tribunal and be mindful of conduct to avoid risk of sanctions or adverse costs awards. 

For more information please contact Simon Ewing, Partner

T: +44 (0)20 7203 5330