New Tribunal Bundle Guidance
- AuthorEmma Grimbly
The Tribunal Service has launched new guidance for Tribunal bundles in SEN appeals which could have key ramifications when providing independent reports as evidence. Whereas it is often the case that these reports are highly detailed and therefore lengthy, the new guidance imposes a limit to the number of pages allowed when submitting evidence. Consequently, we envision that this may lead to some difficulties for parents.
Key aspects of the new guidance relate to the page limits which for most appeals are 100 pages for both Parents and the LA respectively. This does not take into account the Section K documents used to draft the EHC Plan and therefore, essentially, the Local Authority gets 100 pages plus the documents it already gathered through the EHC process. This therefore, highlights the need to ensure that in the drafting stage of the EHC Plan all reports that are required are sought so as to include them in the Section K of an EHC plan.
It will be imperative that parents ensure that the Local Authority, when carrying out EHC needs assessments, gather reports from all those listed in SEN Regulation 6. This includes, importantly for parents, regulation 6(1)(h) which stipulates – “advice and information from any person the child’s parent or young person reasonably requests that the local authority seek advice from”. This could include requests for advice from occupational therapy, speech and language therapy, physiotherapy, music therapy, IT assessment; thus enabling those reports to be included in Section K (no page number limit) and properly utilising Regulation 6 to ensure parents have a thorough and holistic EHC needs assessment.
There are also potential ramifications for non-compliance by a LA in respect of issuing the bundle, if it fails to issue the bundle by the deadline set by the Tribunal. A breach of the Tribunal’s deadline could result in the LA being automatically barred from the hearing.