Religions, communities, and local governments sometimes form committees, or tribunals, consisting of unbiased individuals who convene at the request of others to arbitrate matters between opposing parties. These meetings are generally less formal than typical court proceedings but usually allow both sides to present their case. Military or international tribunals may establish courts that try cases of alleged criminal behavior. Depending on the type of tribunal, members may or may not require a legal background.
Individuals may seek the assistance of church dioceses concerning matters of biblical or church regulation. Roman Catholics frequently request church intervention in matters related to marriage annulment. The process usually involves contacting a parish priest who forwards documentation and statements on to the tribunal or governing body of the church. The tribunal accepts testimony from both marriage partners and decides whether the marriage may be dissolved by the church.
Employees in some European countries may use employment tribunal appeals to resolve issues between themselves and employers. In this instance, the tribunal, or committee generally involves a qualified legal representative and lay members who make decisions regarding discrimination, payment issues, and unfair dismissals. Employees have a specific amount of time from the time of the incident in which to file a complaint with the tribunal. At a scheduled hearing, all individuals involved may present their case, provide witness testimony, and answer questions. The committee arrives at a decision based on documentation, testimony and evidence.
A community tax tribunal typically resolves issues of property valuation and taxation. Individuals generally seek the aid of these committees when they believe a city government is subjecting them to unfair property taxation. Commissioners appointed to the board hold hearings and review claims. If a taxpayer disagrees with the committee’s decision, he or she has the right to file an appeal. The city, however, may not have that option.
Unlike other tribunals, attendance at military or international criminal tribunals is not voluntary. These proceedings generally call into question the behavior of military personnel or military and political leaders for crimes allegedly committed against other people. The tribunal may consist of members of a specific country’s military or officials affiliated with the United Nations. These individuals serve as authoritative representatives who hear cases concerning crimes against humanity. These accusations usually involve torture, espionage, genocide, or piracy.