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The appeals process

How the appeals process works.

We will prepare a file containing all the details about how we made the decision, the evidence (documents we used to make our decision, for example payslips, tenancy agreement, bank statements). We call this a submission. A copy of our submission will be sent to The Tribunals Service and a copy to you. If you have got somebody helping you, for example a solicitor or law centre, we will also send a copy to them.

When The Tribunals Service receives our submission they will send a form to you.

This asks you to confirm you want your appeal to be heard and whether you want an oral or a paper hearing. You can also say if you have any special requirements, for example if you need an interpreter.

Once The Tribunals Service is dealing with your appeal, if you want to ask any questions about the progress, or submit any more information, you will deal directly with them, not us. Their contact details are below. Your appeal will be heard by a First-tier Tribunal hearing.

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First-tier Tribunal

The First-tier Tribunal hearing is made up of "legally qualified panel members", people with legal qualifications and experience. Sometimes it is several people, but often it is just one Judge.

At the hearing the Judge examines the evidence and decides whether our decision was correct or whether we got anything wrong.

At an oral hearing you can attend and an officer from the council will usually attend. You will be able to ask questions, but the Judge will also want to ask you about the information you have given. The officer from the council can also ask you questions.

At a paper hearing you do not attend and the Judge considers your case using the written information given.

The Judge is completely independent, he will not take sides with either you or the council. However, the tribunal is governed by exactly the same laws about how to work out benefit, so the Judge can only make decisions on whether or not the decision is correct, and not on whether it is fair.

Please bear in mind, that he could make a decision that is less favourable to you, for example he may decide that we have paid you too much benefit and you have to re-pay it.

You will be given a written decision within 7 days of the appeal hearing. A copy of the decision is also sent to us.

When the appeal tribunal gives its decision if you still believe it is wrong you have a further right of appeal. We have a similar right to appeal against the decision if we believe the decision is wrong.

If the appeal tribunal decides in your favour and, we are not appealing against their decision, then we will put matters right as soon as we can after receiving our copy of the Tribunals Service's decision.

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Upper Tribunal

If you, or us, disagree with the Tribunals decision, we may be able to appeal further to the Upper Tribunal. However, this is not an automatic right. A Judge from the First-tier Tribunal has to give permission. Appeals can only be made to the Upper Tribunal on a point of law. That means, you cannot ask them to look at your circumstances or the evidence again, but only ask them to look at whether the First-tier Tribunal made an error in how they applied the law.

The Judges of the Upper Tribunal are independent of both the Department of Work and Pensions and the council. Details of how to appeal to the Upper Tribunal will be given to you in the decision letter from the Tribunals Service. You need to read this carefully. It tells you what the time limits on making a further appeal are and other important details you need to know about making a further appeal. You will probably want to take legal advice if you want to appeal to the Upper Tribunal.

The Tribunals Service provides a very detailed leaflet about appeals.

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Article utilities:  Bookmark and Share Print Print this page Last updated: 04 Apr 2013 at 12:46