- The appeal will usually be registered by the SEND Tribunal within 10 working days (may be longer during periods of high volume) of receipt of your completed form, and they will write to you with the hearing date, and your deadline for submitting further documents or evidence.
- The local authority will receive a copy of your form and will be given 30 working days to respond including whether they oppose the appeal.
- Use this time to gather any further evidence. You can request information or a document from the local authority or school. If you cannot get hold of information or a document you think is important to your case, the SEND Tribunal has the power to make an order. Use their ‘request for changes’ form.
- You will need to let SEND Tribunal know who will be attending – they will ask you to complete an attendance form and include details of any supporters, representatives or witnesses who have agreed to attend.
- When you submit copies of further documents or evidence, you must also send a copy to the local authority. Make sure you do this by the deadline, as late evidence may not be accepted.
- Before the hearing* you will receive a copy of the full appeal bundle which includes details of the time and venue.
- The appeal will be considered by a panel – a tribunal judge and up to two specialist members,
- The decision will be communicated with you (and the local authority), within 10 working days of the hearing.
*Refusal to assess’ appeals are usually ‘paper hearings’ unless you request an oral hearing. A paper hearing means the appeal will be decided without the need for a court hearing.
The ’working document’
When the local authority send their response to an appeal about the contents of the plan they will include a ‘working document’ which is an editable copy of the final EHC plan.
You can record the proposed changes you would like to see made to the plan and return it to the local authority for review.
This should be an ongoing process which enables agreement to be reached ahead of the hearing; for example, the local authority might agree with some of your proposals, but not all.
You can ask professionals to be your witness, establish whether they can provide a letter, report or witness statement which helps you to evidence your key points. You may, for example, ask that they clarify or expand the information they have provided as part of the assessment.
You could ask if they will come along to the hearing (no more than three witnesses); if they decline, you can request a summons for them to attend – before you do this, be sure they intend to support your case!
Private therapists and psychologists are likely to charge you a fee to attend a hearing
The local authority can ask professionals to attend as witnesses too – you will be able to see who they have called when you receive the bundle.
You will need to let SEND Tribunals know the details of your witnesses when you complete the attendance form.
Telephone case management
This is where a conference call is arranged between the tribunal judge, the local authority and you (and/or your representative). You will be given a number to call, and call joining instructions will be given to you beforehand.
It may be that one party has requested a conference call or perhaps the judge would like something clarified ahead of the hearing. Sometimes, it can be just to set a new hearing date.
You can also request Telephone Case Management, perhaps where you would like some information from the local authority or clarification of something that cannot wait until the hearing. Use the ‘request for changes‘ form (copied to the local authority) to explain why you would like the Tribunals service to arrange this for you.
Withdrawal of appeal/consent order
If you decide to withdraw your appeal, you will need permission from the SEND Tribunal. Their decision will depend upon how close to the hearing it is. Sometimes, the judge will insist that both parties attend, to discuss late settlement.
When the local authority concedes, before they have put in their response to the appeal, they must comply with the legal deadlines to assess, issue or amend a plan. (SEND Regulation 45).
Where you have come to an agreement after the local authority have sent in their response to the appeal, a signed document detailing what has been agreed should be signed by both parties and sent to the Tribunal. This is known as a ‘consent order’. As there are no deadlines which apply automatically, we would advise you agree and set these out in the consent order.