Having trouble getting through to the tribunal helpline?
Registered an appeal in the last few months and still not heard anything?
Cancelled tribunal dates becoming the norm?
Missed bundles, inaccurate details?
You are not alone.
If it is not hard enough having to ‘fight’ the system and the unfair decisions that are being made by councils on a daily basis, the system that is meant to act as the pillar of justice, is crumbling. The cracks are so big, that the only impact they have is on the child and only benefit the local authority.
It is very unlikely that a family is not as prepared as they possibly can be, for tribunal. What we do see however, is that the LA is not. Delays therefore only give one party member an advance in these circumstances…
2) Miss papers:
Unfortunately we see it time and time again. SENDIST has made the LA responsible for the creation of the bundle. It is one side of the disputing parties that is responsible for making sure ALL evidence is included so a judge can see everything they need, in front of them on the day. Whilst I will squish my cynical side for now, the fact of the matter is that we check bundles on a weekly basis and 1 in 2 are inaccurate; missing out parental evidence. If the judge does not have your evidence in front of them, there is again only one party that this impacts… the vulnerable one!
3) Cancelled tribunals
It is likely that you have had to fork out upfront cash from your back pocket, in order to secure your witnesses for the tribunal day. Sometimes tribunals are cancelled a matter of hours before, meaning that many professionals’ cancellation policies do not cover a return of fees. Whilst you can apply for expenses to be covered, our experience is that this is not paid back to the family for months and months on end, and there is limited communication from the LA. It is our understanding that the named contact that deals with these type of ‘expenses’/ ‘lost costs’ is Jason Greenwood, tribunal help desk.
4) Registration of appeal delays
The tribunal claims that it should take 12 weeks from start to finish to register and hear your appeal. Our experience is that appeals tend to last from 4 - 12 months with appeals randomly being registered either within the next day of submission, to having to wait in excess of 2 months to hear back.