Tribunals system

Tribunals are a central part of the Scottish justice system and play a vital role in protecting people's rights. People can go to a tribunal if they want to challenge a decision that affects them. Tribunals tend to be less formal and more accessible than the courts.

Some tribunals deal with matters that are reserved to the UK Parliament, like employment and immigration. Other tribunals deal with matters that are devolved to the Scottish Parliament, such as mental health and housing.

Specialist panels deal with these cases which include amongst others, the compulsory care and treatment of people with mental health disorders; disputes between tenants and landlords; disputes involving land and property; and cases concerning children and young people with additional support needs.

Tribunal reform

Over the years, tribunals were created and developed independently of one another, so their practices and procedures can vary significantly.

We are restructuring Scotland's tribunals to make sure they are easier to understand and more user-friendly.

This will also promote more consistency across the tribunals landscape, particularly in their practices and procedures.

The Tribunals (Scotland) Act 2014 paved the way for tribunals to be brought under one umbrella – the Scottish Tribunals.

The Scottish Tribunals system has two tiers:

  • a First-tier Tribunal, which makes decisions on cases previously heard by the individual tribunals
  • an Upper Tribunal that hears appeals against decisions of the First-tier Tribunal

The First-tier Tribunal is divided into Chambers, each of which hears cases relating to particular subjects, like housing and property or tax.

All existing tribunals will over time transfer into the appropriate Chamber. This means that none of the expertise the tribunals built up before the reforms started will be lost.

Administrative support for the Scottish Tribunals is provided by the Scottish Courts and Tribunals Service.

Timeframe for reform

The tribunals listed below have been transferred into the appropriate Chambers of the First-tier Tribunal:



Transfer date

The Private Rented Housing (prhp) and Homeowner Housing Panels (HOHP)

Housing and Property

December 2016

The Scottish Tax Tribunals


April 2017

Private Rented Sector (PRS) and private Residential Tenancies +

Housing and Property

December 2017

Letting Agents ++

Housing and Property

January 2018

Additional Support Needs Tribunal for Scotland (ASNTS)

Health and Education

January 2018

Scottish Charity Appeals Panel (SCAP)

General Regulatory

January 2018

Social Security Appeals+++

Social Security Chamber

November 2018 (Wave 1 devolved benefits)

Parking and Bus Lane Adjudicators

General Regulatory Chamber

April 2020

Valuation Appeals Committee

Local Taxation Chamber

1 April 2023

Council Tax Reduction Review Panel

Local Taxation Chamber

1 April 2023

Low Emission Zones

General Regulatory Chamber

1 June 2023

Workplace Parking Licencing Schemes

General Regulatory Chamber

1 June 2023

Parking Prohibitions

General Regulatory Chamber

1 June 2023

+Private Rented Sector cases were transferred to the First-tier Tribunal from the Sheriff Court. Private Residential Tenancies is a new function reflecting changes to the legislation about tenancy agreements.

++Letting agents is a new function arising from a new framework for the regulation of letting agents introduced through Part 4 of the Housing (Scotland) Act 2014.

+++ Social Security Chamber was set up in November 2018 as set out in the Social Security (Scotland) Act 2018. The Social Security Chamber is responsible for hearing appeals against determinations made by Social Security Scotland.  

The transfer programme will continue until at least 2025. Below is a list of the remaining tribunals which are listed in schedule 1 of the 2014 Act. :

Tribunal Chamber Proposed transfer date
Mental Health Tribunal for Scotland (MHTS) Mental Health 2024
Police Appeals Tribunal General Regulatory 2025
NHS Tribunal Health and Education 2025
NHS National Appeal Panel for Entry to the Pharmaceutical List Health and Education 2025
Education Appeals Committees (EACs) Health and Education 2026

People who already have a case before a tribunal when it transfers to the new structure will not notice the change as the case will still be dealt with by the same tribunal members where practicable.

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