Look, the user entered something wrong and then switched to another tab. After form submit the current tab is ok and nothing happens until the user swithes to the tab with invalid information and (surprise! surprise!) she founds invalid data in fields. I believe just a few users would guess that they have to find a tab with errors.
I don't have an answer to this question but reducing the problem to an issue with the user is a no-no. There should be a way to tell the user on which tab they have an error not just require them to blindly click on tab after tab to figure it out for themselves.
Personally, using tab panels as a sort of
wizarddoesn't exactly make sense to me. I would compartmentalize information on each tab, but I wouldn't spread the information on one form across multiple tabs. Perhaps if you look at another way of accomplishing the same use case, such as using a faces wizard or a4j:page, you might have better luck.
Also, if you post this question on the RichFaces forum, you might get more of a response.