The Water Tribunal
"Water" - Journal of the Water Engineers Association Vol. 15
Tzvi Levinson, Adv.
The Water Tribunal is that branch of the Judicature that has unique jurisdiction over proceedings regarding water and drainage issues. Presiding over the Tribunal is a District Court judge (the Hon. Dr. Dan Bein of the District Court of Haifa) with whom serve two side-judges, public representatives who are appointed by the Minister of Agriculture. Whereas a judge is usually prohibited from basing his ruling on personal knowledge (as distinguished from matters that are conceived to be in "judicial knowledge" - e.g. historical facts, basic physical phenomena) members of the Water Tribunal are expected to rely on their expertise and professional knowledge and to exercise them in adjudicating the complex factual data and careful deliberation required in water matters. The judicial review of administrative decisions is usually limited to "external" grounds: The courts feel reluctant to overstep their constitutional boundary and to interfere in a decision, and so either uphold a decision or declare its ???. The Water Tribunal, however, does not restrict thus its review of the matters brought before it but rules also on the professional merits of a decision. It can take on itself the mantle of the Authority and decide a matter in the Authority's stead where it deems that the Authority's decision was wrong for any number of reasons. Appeals from the Water Tribunal go to the Supreme Court. Not being an expert on water matters, it will usually not interfere with the Water Tribunal's ruling except on grounds rooted in Administrative Law or Judicial Policy.