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A general term for a court, or the seat of a judge.

In Roman Law, the term applied to an elevated seat occupied by the chief judicial magistrate when he heard causes.

West's Encyclopedia of American Law, edition 2. Copyright 2008 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.


n. any court, judicial body, or board which has quasi-judicial functions (such as a public utilities board which sets rates or a planning commission which can allow variances from zoning regulations).

Copyright © 1981-2005 by Gerald N. Hill and Kathleen T. Hill. All Right reserved.


a body convened to hear a dispute. While a court is a kind of tribunal, the word is often used for something which is not a court. In the constitutional law of the UK, an alternative forum for the resolution of disputes instead of the ordinary courts. They are mostly miscellaneous and are set up by statutes for various purposes. They quite often have entirely different rules of evidence and procedure from ordinary courts. They are generally supposed to be more flexible, more expert and speedier than the normal courts. They operate in many fields, including taxation, immigration, and landlord and tenant cases. The lives of many are affected by social security tribunals and the EMPLOYMENT TRIBUNALS appear to have been so much of a success that they are busy, respected and are given new jurisdictions from time to time. Some form of appeal usually lies from a tribunal, at least on law, to the ordinary courts, and there is a supervisory jurisdiction in the COUNCIL ON TRIBUNALS.

In the international sphere where the legal foundations are less solid, the German and Japanese war criminals were tried by an International Military Tribunal. At the time of writing the International Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia is still sitting. It was established under the Charter of the United Nations. See also WAITANGI TRIBUNAL.

Collins Dictionary of Law © W.J. Stewart, 2006

TRIBUNAL. The seat of a judge; the place where he administers justice; but by this term is more usually understood the whole body of judges who compose a jurisdiction sometimes it is taken for the jurisdiction which they exercise.
     2. This term is Latin, and derives its origin from the elevated seat where the tribunes administered justice.

A Law Dictionary, Adapted to the Constitution and Laws of the United States. By John Bouvier. Published 1856.
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