A very welcome shortcut..
Jon’s medical problems were not physical ones. He is affected by anxiety, depression and OCD. He and I did two tribunal hearings in Birmingham on the same day, his ESA and PIP appeals. They had to be with two separate tribunals as the panels are set up differently with two members for ESA and three for PIP so they put one in the morning and one in the afternoon. The ESA appeal went very well with Jon going in with zero points and the tribunal awarding 18 points and accepting that he should have been in the support group.
We ate sandwiches in the waiting area as the second hearing was just after lunch and we watched the ESA decision being taken to the room where the PIP appeal would be heard; we had been told that the PIP panel would be made aware of the outcome. We wanted the enhanced rate of both PIP components and Jon went in with 2 points for the daily living component and 4 for mobility. Something went wrong as the appeal was refused with the tribunal confirming the Department’s decision.
Jon and I remained convinced that the case was sound, both in terms of the evidence and the law so we requested a statement of the tribunal’s reasons with the idea of challenging the decision. You can challenge a decision maker’s decision simply saying that you disagree with it but to challenge a tribunal’s decision you have to point to one or more errors of law in the statement of reasons. A tribunal can make what decision it likes but it has to follow the law and deal with the evidence in a lawful manner. I found what I considered to be several errors of law in this statement of reasons and put in an application for permission to appeal to the Upper Tribunal.
Such an application is considered by a judge sitting alone and without the parties there. Our application persuaded this judge that there was an error of law but because it was seen as rather more than simply arguable, the judge went on to set aside the tribunal decision and directed that the PIP appeal be re-heard by a different panel. This shortcut avoided months of delay while the case went through the Upper Tribunal.
Jon’s case still had a long wait for that re-hearing but it was worth it as he came away with awards of the enhanced rate of both components