Appeals Service

Appealing against decisions made by the Department, including Child Maintenance Service, Northern Ireland Housing Executive 

About Appeals Service

We give administrative support to independent tribunals which hear appeals against decisions made by the Department by:

  • issuing the relevant papers to all parties
  • arranging the date, place and time of hearing
  • providing administrative support to the Tribunal
  • issuing decisions
  • arranging to have record of proceedings/ statement of reasons completed

Appealing a decision

What happens when your appeal has been forwarded to the Appeals Service?

Appeal locations

The Appeals Service has about 120 staff located in Belfast and Omagh.

Appeals are heard at 18 locations across the province:

  • Armagh
  • Ballymena
  • Ballymoney
  • Banbridge
  • Belfast
  • Coleraine
  • Cookstown
  • Craigavon
  • Downpatrick
  • Dungannon
  • Enniskillen
  • Limavady
  • Londonderry
  • Magherafelt
  • Newry
  • Newtownards
  • Omagh
  • Strabane

Standards of service

We are committed to providing you with a high standard of service and treat all of our customers fairly and equally. Your race, ethnic origin, age, gender, sexual orientation, religious beliefs or any disability you have will not affect how we treat you. If you believe you have not been treated fairly, you can make a complaint, and we will make every effort to correct and improve our service.

Help us by being considerate when you are dealing with our staff and other customers in our waiting areas. This will enable us to give everyone fair and equal treatment.

Appeals Service Complaints Procedure

The Appeals Service (TAS) provides administrative support to the independent tribunals set up by legislation to hear appeals against decisions made by Decision Makers in the:

  • Department
  • Child Maintenance Service
  • Inland Revenue
  • Northern Ireland Housing Executive
  • Rates Collection Agency

The procedure does not deal with complaints about the behaviour of tribunal members, including the chairman. Complaints about tribunal members are the responsibility of The Lord Chief Justice. As Head of the Judiciary he has issued a Code of Practice on complaints about the personal conduct of judicial office-holders.

The Lord Chief Justice has delegated the responsibility for dealing with the complaints about tribunal members to the President of Tribunals. Such complaints should be sent to the President of Appeal Tribunals.

Complaints about officers of the Agencies and the Inland Revenue should be sent to the office dealing with the respective claims.

Our Commitment

  • we are committed to providing all our customers with a high standard of service
  • complaints about any aspect of our service are welcomed and are dealt with in a positive way
  • we will fully and fairly investigate every complaint and give an explanation of the circumstances
  • if a mistake has been made we will apologise and try to put things right as soon as we can
  • we have procedures in place that are designed to ensure that information is obtained in the shortest possible time and that replies are issued within set time scales.

What is a complaint?

For us a complaint is an oral or written expression of dissatisfaction with the standard of service provided. Examples are allegations of rudeness or unsatisfactory service.

Complaints can be made by either appellants or their representatives.

How to complain

We have an administrative headquarters office in Belfast, a tribunal centre in Omagh and 18 outlying centres throughout Northern Ireland.

If you have been dealt with in any of the centres and are dissatisfied with the administrative service you can either complain immediately to the tribunal clerk or follow the procedure detailed in the following sections.

Notification of complaints

You can tell us about a complaint either in person, by telephone, letter or email.

In some cases the complaint may be dealt with verbally.

It would be helpful if you complained as soon as possible after the alleged incident. In all cases you should complain within six months of you first knowing about the problem. But, if there is a good reason, TAS may extend this time limit.

How the procedures work

It is possible that the clerk or the person you are dealing with can sometime resolve your complaint informally and quickly. However, if you prefer or are still not satisfied, you can contact the Complaints Officer.

The Complaints Officer will arrange for your complaint to be investigated and a reply issued. If you are dissatisfied with the reply you can contact the Complaints Officer again and he/she will refer your case to the Head of Administration in the Appeals Service, who will arrange for your complaint to be reviewed and a further reply issued.

In all cases your complaint will be:

  • acknowledged within 3 working days
  • investigated thoroughly
  • treated confidentially and
  • replied to within 10 working days - if an unavoidable delay occurs we will let you know the reason why and advise when a final reply might be expected

Customer dissatisfaction with reply

If you are not satisfied with any of the replies from us you can write to the Operations Business Manager

If you have received a reply from the Operations Business Manager and you are still not satisfied you can ask your MP/MLA to refer your complaint to the Assembly Ombudsman.

The Ombudsman is independent and can investigate complaints against government departments. The Ombudsman will normally expect you to have used our complaints procedure before considering your complaint.

Financial redress

Compensation may be considered in exceptional circumstances such as when service failure has clearly led to financial loss.

Conclusion

By examining your complaints we will be able to identify any weakness in our procedures. This will enable us to take remedial action and improve the services we provide for you. 

Our mission statement

To provide a prompt, accurate, courteous, efficient and independent service to all customers of The Appeals Service.

Moratorium in fee-paid tribunal judicial pension cases

The purpose of this arrangement is to remove the need for any potential claimant in a pension-related claim under the Northern Ireland Regulations to lodge a 'protective' claim from now on to preserve his or her position.

Supreme Court decision

Following a recent decision of the UK Supreme Court in the case of O'Brien v Ministry of Justice, the Lord Chief Justice of Northern Ireland wrote to the Minister of Justice requesting he put in place a moratorium.

Code of Practice for Representatives

The purpose of the Code of Practice for Representatives is:

  • to explain what Appeal Tribunals expect from representatives both prior to and at hearing
  • to ensure that representatives use their best endeavours to secure compliance with Directions made by tribunals

Contact us

We welcome and value your opinions or suggestions that help us to improve the service we give.  If you have any comments  please contact the Appeals Service Belfast  If you have attended a tribunal and would like to leave feedback please use the Customer Comment Form.


Related to Appeals Service

Access to information

How to request information from the Department for Communities including Freedom of Information (FOI) and the use of our Publication Scheme.

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