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TASCAT Member Code of Conduct

  1. This Code of Conduct is issued by the President of the Tasmanian Civil and Administrative Tribunal pursuant to section 68 of the Tasmanian Civil and Administrative Tribunal Act 2020 (the TASCAT Act). It applies to all Members of the Tribunal, including supplementary Members. The Code may be reviewed from time to time to ensure its relevance.
  2. Purpose

  3. This Code seeks to provide guidance to Members in the performance of their statutory functions as Members of the Tribunal and to assist Members in identifying and resolving ethical issues as they may arise.
  4. Upholding the Objectives of the TASCAT Act

  5. A further purpose of this Code is to provide Tribunal users with information by reference to which to assess Members’ conduct.
  6. The objectives of the TASCAT Act include:
    • promoting the best principles of public administration, including:
      • independence in decision making
      • natural justice and procedural fairness
      • high quality, consistent decision making
      • transparency and accountability
    • to be accessible;
    • to ensure matters are processed and resolved as quickly as possible;
    • to keep costs to parties to a minimum;
    • to use straight forward language and procedures;
    • to act with as little formality and technicality as possible; and
    • to be flexible in the way that the Tribunal conducts its business.
  7. Members are to perform their duties and conduct themselves consistently with these objectives.
  8. General Responsibilities

  9. Tribunal Members have the following general responsibilities both in their activities as a Member and in their personal activities:
    • to uphold the law, including being aware of and complying with legislation dealing with privacy, discrimination and corruption;
    • to uphold the highest standards of integrity, truthfulness, and honesty.
  10. Tribunal Values

  11. In performing their duties, Members should at all times strive to give effect to the following values (derived from “A Guide to Standards of Conduct for Tribunal Members” issued by the Administrative Review Council).
  12. Respect for the Law

  13. Members should, while acting as a Tribunal Member and while performing functions associated with membership, demonstrate respect for all aspects of the law.
  14. In particular, Members should:
    • at all times while performing Tribunal duties comply with the law in relation to the conduct of hearings, the determination of matters and interactions with other Members, Tribunal staff and Tribunal users;
    • ensure that all decisions and determinations are legally well founded.
  15. Fairness

  16. Fairness requires a Tribunal Member to make unbiased, impartial decisions and to give all parties the opportunity to put forward their positions.
  17. More specifically, Members are to:
    • apply the law equally, and act in an impartial manner in the performance of their decision making functions, so that their actions do not give rise to a legitimate apprehension of bias or amount to actual bias;
    • advise the parties of any matter or circumstance which might give rise to bias or conflict of interest or a perception of bias or conflict of interest and determine whether in the circumstances it is appropriate to continue to conduct or determine the proceedings;
    • refrain, other than during a hearing or in exceptional circumstances, from any communication (either oral or in writing) or association during the course of proceedings with a party, legal representative or witness in the absence of the other party or parties or their representatives;
    • abide by the principles of procedural fairness, in particular, by ensuring that parties have a reasonable opportunity to present their case and to answer the case against them;
    • be aware of and address appropriately barriers such as language, cultural background, lack of literacy or disability which are likely to impede parties in presenting their case.
  18. In addition, Members should:
    • if engaged in another profession, occupation or business, take care to ensure that those activities do not conflict with or undermine the discharge of their responsibilities as Members and otherwise comply with s52(2) of the TASCAT Act;
    • refrain from partisan political activity which is directly related to the work of the Tribunal or which may impinge upon the perception of impartiality of the Member or the Tribunal.

    Independence

  19. Tribunal Members are to perform their duties independently, free from external influence and free from the fear of adverse consequences.
  20. Members should not allow themselves to be put in a position where their independence may be compromised or be perceived to be compromised.
  21. Whilst there are some exceptions (eg. Barristers Rules – see below), in most circumstances, where Members have a professional practice in addition to being Members of the Tribunal, they:
    • cannot appear before the Tribunal as a representative of a party or other person;
    • cannot advise individuals or bodies concerning Tribunal proceedings or potential proceedings involving those individuals or bodies;
    • cannot act for or against or provide services to individuals or bodies who are litigants before them in the Tribunal; and
    • must be aware of, and comply with, any professional standards applicable to them in their professional practice in relation to their role on the Tribunal, for example, s 41 of the Legal Profession (Solicitors’ Conduct) Rules 2020 and r 101A of the Legal Profession Uniform Conduct (Barristers) Rules 2015.
  22. Respect for Persons

  23. Members are to conduct proceedings in a manner that is patient, courteous and respectful of all parties, witnesses, representatives, staff and others with whom Members have to deal.
  24. In particular, Members are to:
    • demonstrate patience, courtesy and respect in their own conduct and demeanour;
    • communicate in a clear, plain manner so as to be understood by the parties;
    • control the proceedings in such a way as to create an environment in which participants can and are encouraged to treat other participants courteously and respectfully;
    • be aware of and responsive to cultural and other sensitivities in relation to forms of address, conduct and dress.
  25. The Tribunal recognises the importance of fairness, dignity and respect for others in the workplace. Each person in the workplace, including staff and Members, should have a safe and secure place in which to work. The Tribunal does not tolerate inappropriate workplace behaviour, which includes bullying, harassment, sexual harassment, and other forms of unlawful discrimination, vilification and violence.
  26. Diligence and Efficiency

  27. Members are to be diligent and timely in the performance of their duties. They should take reasonable steps to maintain and enhance the knowledge, skills and personal qualities necessary to the performance of their duties.
  28. In particular, Members should:
    • conduct proceedings and make decisions with due rigour, diligence and intellectual honesty;
    • perform their duties in the Tribunal so as to resolve matters in a timely and appropriate manner with a view to ensuring that the Tribunal’s proceedings are efficient, effective and inexpensive;
    • provide oral reasons for decision where appropriate and deliver reserved decisions within the time standards applicable to the relevant stream of the Tribunal;
    • undertake and participate in professional development and training programs to enhance relevant knowledge and skills;
    • keep informed of developments in substantive and procedural matters within the jurisdiction of the Tribunal relevant to their duties;
    • support and encourage, where possible, the professional development of colleagues;
    • become proficient in the use of technology including the Tribunal’s digital sound recording facilities, and other technological developments implemented by the Tribunal.
  29. In order to promote the efficient conduct of proceedings, Members should:
    • clearly identify the issues and orders in dispute;
    • facilitate the resolution or narrowing of issues in dispute, where appropriate;
    • adjourn proceedings only when necessary in the interests of justice and fairness;
    • ensure that any interlocutory orders and applications do not unnecessarily delay the final determination of proceedings;
    • ensure that evidence is confined by reference to the issues in dispute, and that it is given as concisely as is reasonably possible.
  30. Integrity

  31. Members, in carrying out their duties as Members, are to act honestly and truthfully.
  32. In particular, Members must:
    • not knowingly take advantage of or benefit from information, not publicly available, obtained in the course of performing their Tribunal functions;
    • not use their position as a Member improperly to gain or seek to gain any advantage or benefit for themselves or any other person;
    • be scrupulous in the use of Tribunal resources;
    • not disclose any confidential information otherwise than as permitted by law;
    • refrain from conduct which would bring the Tribunal into disrepute.
  33. Accountability and Transparency

  34. Members are accountable for their decisions and actions taken as Members and have a responsibility to be open and frank about their decisions, actions and inaction in relation to their duties.
  35. In particular, Members are to:
    • participate in performance evaluations conducted by the Tribunal;
    • co-operate fully in complaint investigations carried out by the Tribunal.
  36. Responsibility of the President and Deputy Presidents

  37. It is the responsibility of the President together with the Deputy Presidents to assist Members to comply with the Code of Conduct and to perform their responsibilities as Tribunal Members through the provision of appropriate training, leadership and support.
  38. Particular Issues

    Gifts Benefits and Hospitality

  39. Where gifts or benefits are offered, or social invitations extended, by parties or representatives in Tribunal proceedings, to Members in their capacity as such, these should, as a general rule, be declined.
  40. If a gift is proffered to a Member, in his or her capacity as a Member, in circumstances where it cannot be or it is inappropriate for it to be declined, it should be handed to the Principal Registrar for inclusion in the Tribunal’s gift register and appropriate disposition. Donating the gift to a charity, using the gift for the benefit of Members or staff generally or publicly displaying the gift in the Tribunal’s premises may be appropriate, depending on the circumstances.
  41. Corrupt Conduct

  42. If a Member becomes aware of an instance of behaviour that could be corrupt conduct, maladministration, or criminal conduct, relating to the Tribunal, the Member should report it promptly to the President or the Principal Registrar, or, if appropriate, to the Integrity Commission. For more information about reporting corrupt conduct members can review the Department of Justice’s Public Interest Disclosure procedures at www.justice.tas.gov.au.
  43. Post Service Conduct

  44. After ceasing to be a Member of the Tribunal it is expected that a former Member:
    • would continue to behave in a way that upholds the integrity and good reputation of the Tribunal;
    • would not appear before the Tribunal as a representative where to do so would contravene the Legal Profession (Barristers’ Conduct) Rules 2016, the Legal Profession (Solicitors’ Conduct) Rules 2020 or any other similar applicable professional rules, if any;
    • would not use or take advantage of confidential information obtained in the course of his or her duties as a Member.
  45. Complaints

  46. Complaints in relation to Members will be dealt with as outlined in the Tribunal’s Complaints and Feedback policy.
  47. Compliance with the Code

  48. If a Member does not comply with the Code, the President may direct the Member to take specified action to rectify his or her conduct or determine that further work not be allocated to the Member until the breach is rectified. In cases of serious breach the President may refer a matter to the Attorney General or recommend that the Member not be reappointed at the expiration of their term. Whether such action will be taken will depend on factors such as the seriousness of the conduct in question, whether there is a pattern of such conduct, the intent of the Member concerned and the effect of the conduct upon the Tribunal or others.
  49. The Code of Conduct does not stand alone but forms part of the accountability framework within which both the Tribunal and the Members operate. It is complementary to the Tribunal’s procedures and policies, including the Member professional development framework and the Tribunal’s complaints process.
Updated: 8th November 2021