Early dispute solutions

October 1, 1999

Don Staniford (Letters, THES, September 24) claims the visitorial system lacks independence. What is the evidence for this? Why is the Lord Chancellor, the Lord President of the Council, a committee of the Privy Council or the Master of the Rolls (to take the main examples) any less independent than any (other) member of the judiciary?

Staniford then attacks visitors for not adhering to "the most basic principles of natural justice". This is based on the notion that only an adversarial forensic hearing in open court can provide due process. What about the Parliamentary ombudsman and every other ombudsman?

These are universally regarded as fair, just and effective mechanisms for addressing complaints and resolving grievances, and any visitor exercising his jurisdiction properly will adhere to procedures no less exacting.

Graham Zellick Vice-chancellor, University of London

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