Sir Gary Hickinbottom has been sworn in as President of Welsh Tribunals at a ceremony in Cardiff Crown Court today.
He succeeds Sir Wyn Williams who served as President since 2017, when the role was established.
The President of Welsh Tribunals presides over 7 devolved tribunals, covering areas including mental health, agriculture and the Welsh language.
He takes up the role as devolved tribunals in Wales are set to be reformed. The Welsh Government will be publishing a White Paper in the coming months which will lay the groundwork for future legislation establishing a single, unified tribunal system for Wales, with the intention of improving coherence in the system. It follows recommendations from the independent Commission on Justice in Wales as well as the Law Commission.
Sir Gary Hickinbottom is a solicitor, who practised in commercial and public law until 2000, when he was made a full-time judge. He was appointed to a succession of judicial appointments in both the court and tribunal systems before being made a High Court Judge and then a Judge of the Court of Appeal. He was judicial lead on the programme of tribunal reform under the Tribunals, Courts and Enforcement Act 2007.
Sir Gary Hickinbottom, President of Welsh Tribunals, said:
“I am honoured and delighted to have been appointed President of Welsh Tribunals. Our tribunals play an essential part in delivering accessible justice to the people of Wales. I am looking forward to leading them at this crucial time, and in particular to the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead with the proposed reform of the tribunals system in Wales.”
Mick Antoniw, the Welsh Government’s Counsel General said:
“This is a crucial time for tribunals in Wales as we look to create a simpler and more coherent system, and I know Sir Gary Hickinbottom’s leadership and expertise will be vital in the continued strengthening of devolved tribunals.
“I also want to thank Sir Wyn Williams for all the work he has done in driving progress. He leaves the role with Welsh tribunals on a much stronger footing that when he started.”
Sir Gary Hickinbottom is a solicitor, who practised in commercial and public law until 2000, when he was made a full-time judge. He was appointed to a succession of judicial appointments in both the court and tribunal systems including Designated Civil Judge for Wales, Chief Social Security Commissioner for Great Britain, President of the Administrative Appeals Chamber of the Upper Tribunal and Deputy Senior President of Tribunals, before being made a High Court Judge and then a Judge of the Court of Appeal. He was judicial lead on the programme of tribunal reform under the Tribunals, Courts and Enforcement Act 2007. As a High Court Judge, he was Administrative Court Liaison Judge for Wales, and in the Court of Appeal he supervised Welsh appeals as well as public law appeals.
In 2021, he retired from the Court of Appeal to conduct a Commission of Inquiry into governance and corruption in the British Virgin Islands, on which he reported in April 2022.
Sir Gary now sits as a commercial and sports mediator. He has been a registered mediator since 1991 and a Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators since 1995. He is a member of several sport dispute resolution panels being Chair of the Judicial Panel for the Lawn Tennis Association and for British Wrestling, and a member of the FA Safeguarding Panel and the Sport Resolutions Arbitrators’ Panel and National Safeguarding Panel regularly chairing hearings relating to a wide variety of sports.