All appeals are different, and the length of an appeal depends on multiple factors. These include the SEND Tribunal’s capacity and whether you make any requests for an extension or postponement throughout the process.
A timetable for the appeal will be set out in a registration letter provided by the Tribunal. You should receive this within a few weeks of the appeal being lodged.
The registration letter usually sets out:
- the final evidence deadline for the appeal;
- the date the Local Authority has to provide ‘bundles’ containing copies of relevant documents to the Tribunal by;
- any other deadlines in the appeal;
- any ‘Telephone Case Management Hearings’, including meetings with the Local Authority and the Tribunal to make progress in the appeal;
- the final hearing date.
In ‘Refusal to Assess’ or ’Refusal to Issue’ appeals, it is common for the Tribunal to decide the appeal “on the papers”, meaning they will review the documents submitted by both parties and make a decision without a final hearing.
If this is not your preference, you can request that the appeal is not considered in this way when lodging the appeal. You can also put in this request later if circumstances change and you feel that it would be unsuitable for a decision to be made without oral evidence.
If your appeal does involve a final hearing, you are allowed to have up to three expert witnesses. These might consist of educational experts who have assessed your child or a representative from the school you wish your child to attend. There is also the option to request more witnesses if you need to.
Once the final hearing or consideration of the papers has taken place, the Tribunal issues its decision – usually within two weeks of them coming to a conclusion. This is a written decision which is sent to both parties at the same time, typically by email.