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SEN - Time limits for appealing
Special Educational Needs – time limits for appealing.
When a Local Authority issues a Statement of Special Educational Needs or an Amended Statement, accompanying the Statement or Amended Statement will be a letter informing the parent that they have two months from the date of the letter within which to appeal. In a recent case of CM –v- Surrey County Council (SEN) UKUT (AAC) a mother of child did not appeal until three weeks after the date for appealing had expired.
Initially, the Special Educational Needs & Disability Tribunal refused to permit the appeal to progress on the basis that the appeal was out of time. The mother said that she had delayed appealing because she was gathering further evidence.
The matter was appealed to an Upper Tribunal and the Upper Tribunal took the view that in considering whether the appeal should proceed or not if it was lodged out of time, the Tribunal should take into account a number of factors including the underlying merits of the mother’s appeal and weigh these up against any consideration in respect of delay. The First Tier Tribunal had not taken these factors into account and the appeal was, therefore, successful.
Parents, however, should not take this as a green light to submit appeals late. It is important that appeals are lodged on time as there is a risk that they may be struck out at the first opportunity. Beverley Watkins commenting on the case said it is likely to be extremely difficult for First Tier Tribunals to gauge and weigh up the underlying merits of an SEN appeal and even if a an appeal is permitted to proceed out of time this does not mean the parent will be successful.
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Family / Education/ Public Law specialist