By Richard Nettleton, Trainee Solicitor at SEN Legal
Upper Tribunal Update
The Upper Tribunal (UT) which deals with the handling of appeals against decisions of lower tribunals, (i.e. if you wish to Appeal the SEND Tribunal decision you received you would appeal to the Upper Tribunal), has recently released an updated Practice Direction (which can be found here). A Practice Direction is effectively an official announcement by the Court (Tribunal in this case) laying down the rules as to how it should function and detailing any changes to procedure. In summary, the UT have very much slowed down working due to the corona virus and have effectively put a pause on proceedings, which is in contrast to the SEND Tribunal who are continuing to run as normal, if not better with so far with no Hearing adjournments that we are aware of compared to the 75%+ we were seeing pre-crisis.
What does this mean for me as a parent?
If you are a parent wanting to appeal a decision of the SEND Tribunal, you must first ask the permission of the SEND Tribunal to appeal. If the SEND Tribunal refuses you permission to appeal, you automatically obtain a Right of Appeal to the Upper Tribunal. This Right of Appeal lasts for one calendar month from the date of the decision.
Within the practice direction, the UT have extended rights of appeal to the UT by an additional 21 days. As an example, if you gained a Right of Appeal today (15th April 2020), you would have 51 days (one calendar month plus the 21 days extension) meaning your Right of Appeal would expire on the 5th June 2020.
Furthermore, within the Practice Direction the UT have stayed all existing cases for 21 days. This means all active cases have been effectively paused and all deadlines set, move by 21 days. A separate Order is likely to be issued if you have a Hearing date coming up within this window of time.
While Appeals to the Upper Tribunal to review the decisions of the SEND Tribunal are rare in our experience, it is important to note that work has effectively been paused or delayed for the next 21 days awaiting further assessment of the current situation.
Once the UT issue an amended practice direction modifying the information above, we will do another update. Until then, stay safe.