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What if I find it difficult to get hold of a document that is important to my case?
The SEND Tribunal has power to order the production of a document. If you apply well before the hearing using the request for changes form, an order may be made directing the local authority or anyone else who may have relevant information to release it.
Can I withdraw my appeal?
The appeal can be withdrawn with the SEND Tribunal’s agreement. If you inform the SEND Tribunal that you want to withdraw, permission will usually be given if it is more than three weeks before the hearing.
The application to withdraw must be made on the request for changes form and explain why you wish to withdraw. A request to withdraw the appeal very near to the date of the hearing may be refused and both parties may be required to attend before a judge to explain the reasons for the late settlement of the appeal.
Arranging the hearing
Since 23rd March 2020, the SEND Tribunal has been conducting all hearings ‘on paper’ or by
telephone (and, where the technology permits, by video). It is anticipated that virtual hearings will continue.
The SEND Tribunal administration team will send out any log in details in advance of the hearing. These will be issued when the Notice of Hearing is issued. Instead of a physical venue you will see dial in or video dial in details with full instructions on how to join.
If appeal hearings are held at tribunals buildings and in family court rooms they will be arranged as close as possible to your home. The SEND Tribunal aims to limit travel to no more than one and-a half hours in each direction.
What happens at the hearing?
You should always bring the bundle with you to the hearing. It is helpful to go through the bundle prior to the hearing and highlight/mark any points you’d like to raise during the hearing. Be aware that the judge is likely to ask you questions. You can also ask questions to the LA’s witnesses so it’s a good idea to prepare some that could support your position.
The appeal will be heard by a tribunal panel consisting of a legally qualified tribunal judge, who will be the chair, and depending on the type of appeal, up to two specialist members who have been appointed because of their knowledge and experience of children with special
educational needs and/or disabilities.
You do not have to attend the hearing, but it is helpful if you do. The panel will want to hear anything you have to say, and you may want to ask questions of the local authority and any witnesses they may bring. If you do not come, the questions may not be asked on your behalf.
The length of your hearing will depend on the issues in the appeal and the number of witnesses coming to the hearing. Sometimes where the appeal is very complex, it may be necessary to adjourn the case to another day so that the tribunal panel can hear all the relevant evidence.
The Tribunal will let you know the outcome of the hearing within 10 working days of the hearing being held.
There are a host of videos available on YouTube provided by the Tribunal service to represent what a hearing is like.
Can my child come to the hearing?
Your child can join the hearing and give evidence if they want to. However, bear in mind that it is unlikely that the child will stay for the full hearing and you must arrange for someone to look after the child when they are not in the hearing. If the hearing is face-to-face the tribunal clerk will not be able to look after your child and it is unlikely that there will be a child-friendly place for them and their carer to use in the building.
Can I bring someone else to support me at the hearing?
You can bring another person with you for support, but they will not be able to take part in the hearing, and the attendance form must show who they will be.
What expenses can I claim?
You and your witnesses can claim travel expenses to attend a face-to-face hearing. If you bring a friend or a relative to look after your child, you will be able to claim their travel expenses as well.
You should use public transport where possible (bus, tram, standard-class rail travel). If you travel by car, you can claim a fixed amount for mileage. The SEND Tribunal will only pay for taxi fares if public transport is not available, or if you have particular needs (you must tell
SEND Tribunal about these before making your claim for expenses).
What are the timescales following the hearing?
You should receive the decision and reasons by post or email within 10 working days of the hearing. The decision is sent to the nominated contact and the local authority.
Once the SEND Tribunal’s decision is issued, the local authority must carry out the order within a fixed period, beginning with that date.
- To start the assessment or reassessment process – four weeks
- To make an EHC Plan – five weeks
- To amend an EHC Plan – five weeks
- To amend the school/college/institution – two weeks
- To continue an EHC Plan – immediately
- To cease (no longer maintain) an EHC Plan – immediately