Parents and young people have two months to register a SEN appeal with the Tribunal, from the date of the local authority sending the notice containing a decision which can be appealed, or one month from the date of a certificate which has been issued following mediation or the parent or young person being given mediation information, whichever is the later. In some cases parents and young people will not register the appeal within the two month limit. Where it is fair and just to do so, the Tribunal has the power to use its discretion to accept appeals outside the two month time limit.
The following conditions apply to appeals:
- the parent or young person can appeal to the Tribunal when the EHC plan is initially finalised, following an amendment or a replacement of the plan
- appeals must be registered with the Tribunal within two months of the local authority sending a notice to the parent or young person of the decision about one of the matters that can be appealed to the Tribunal or within one month of a certificate being issued following mediation or the parent or young person being given mediation information
- the right to appeal a refusal of an EHC needs assessment will be triggered only where the local authority has not carried out an assessment in the previous six months
- when the parent or young person is appealing about a decision to cease to maintain the EHC plan the local authority has to maintain the plan until the Tribunal's decision is made
When appealing to the Tribunal, parents and young people must supply a copy of the decision that they are appealing against and the date when the local authority's decision was made, or the date of the mediation certificate. The parent or young person who is appealing (the appellant) will be required to give the reasons why they are appealing. The reasons do not have to be lengthy or written in legal language but should explain why the appellant disagrees with the decision. Parents and young people have to send all relevant documents, such as copies of assessments, to the Tribunal.
Once the appeal is registered, the local authority will be sent a copy of the papers filed and will be given a date by which they must respond and asked to provide details of witnesses - this will apply to all parties. The parties will also be told of the approximate hearing date.