In 2017/2018, over 5,640 Appeals were registered with the Tribunal. It was a considerable increase on the amount in the previous year of 4,725, with a considerable increase in the amount of Appeals going all the way to a Hearing.
With these increases, we have found there has been a significant increase in the amount of Hearings being postponed, often at extremely short notice, due to a lack of judicial availability. In the extreme of this, we have experienced the same case being postponed on three separate occasions because of a lack of judges, with only one day’s notice. Unfortunately, the late postponements will of course cause undue stress, anxiety and wasted costs to parents.
*It is possible to recover some of the costs associated with the cancellation from the Tribunal itself*
Once cases have been postponed the Tribunal will assign a priority ranking to the case of either 1, 2 or 3, with a priority 1 case where a child is out of school, the case has been previously postponed, or the Appeal is complex. Priority 3 are cases ready for consideration, but there is not an urgent need for it to be heard (very rare circumstances in our opinion given the nature of the SEND Tribunal).
It is important to note that cases that are poorly prepared and are not ready for consideration will slip down the rating and will not be given priority to be heard. This means if your case is not fully prepared there is a greater risk of your Hearing being postponed and Hearings being given priority to be listed before it. Therefore, getting your ducks in a row and ensuring your case is as best prepared as possible is key!
The postponing of Hearings is something out of our control and is only something we see increasing as Appeal numbers continue to rise. However, we can help to ensure your Appeal is as best prepared as possible, reducing the chances of the Hearing being postponed in the first instance or any further.
(The October 2018 edition of our newsletter contains a useful article highlighting some top tips to ensure your Appeal is as best prepared as possible. Click here to read it!)