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What is a tribunal?

What is a tribunal and how is it part of the SEND system?

If you have a child or young person you may need to know about the SEND tribunal process. This part of a process that can help to resolve disagreements.

If you are unhappy about a decision made by the Local Authority / Hackney Learning Trust you should try to talk to a senior member of the team to see if they can help resolve the concern.

If this is not effective there is also a mediation service who can help try to resolve your concerns.

If this does help resolve your concern the next stage of resolution may be through going to a SEND tribunal panel. 

A SEND tribunal is a legal process where you can get a decision you don’t agree with heard  by an independent panel at a higher level.

There are no legal cost to present your case to tribunal (unless you choose to engage a legal representative to act on your behalf).

Tribunals can have a judge and panel member or members who are considered experts in their field.

They are impartial and do not favour one party over another. They base their decisions on the evidence and information they are presented with from both parties.

Once they reach a decision they make findings, recommendations and orders for things to be done, not done or reconsidered.

These decisions are binding on all parties, Local Authorities and parents or young people.

What kind of decisions would go to a tribunal appeal?

  • The Local Authority  / Hackney Learning Trust decide not to carry out an EHC assessment
  • The Local Authority  / Hackney Learning Trust decide not to issue an EHC Plan after an assessment

If you did get a plan but did not agree with decisions you felt were wrong or inaccurate. This migh be the descriptions of…

  • Your child’s needs in their plan
  • Inadequate provision in their final plan
  • Against a school that did or didn't get named in a final plan

Where you requested but were refused…

  • A reassessment
  • Amendments to your plan following a review or assessment
  • Notification the Local Authority  / Hackney Learning Trust intend to cease to maintain (stop funding) your child's EHC plan



The reforms require parents to consider mediation before lodging an appeal. At a mediation meeting the process will be explained and then you can decide whether to try it or not. A certificate will be available from the mediation service if you decide it’s not for you and wish to lodge an appeal.

Also see… KIDS mediation

Are there any time limits to making an appeal?

Yes, you must register your appeal within two months of the date the LA / HLT sent a letter that caused you to want to appeal the decision or sent the final EHC Plan that stated something you didn’t agree with.

Disability Discrimination claims must be made within six months of the alleged incident or cause of discrimination.

The tribunal may extend these times in rare circumstances where they feel there was a good reason for the deadline being missed but it is better to lodge your appeal within the set timelines.

 Who can make appeals to a SEND tribunal?

The following people can make an appeal to a tribunal:

  • Parents of children aged 0-25 with SEND
  • Young People aged 16-25 (if they have capacity to make decisions relating to the case)

Do I have to have help to go to tribunal?

Going to Tribunal can be hard work and stressful for anyone but especially so if you are already facing difficulties in life.

There are organisations that can help and you should contact them for advice and support. Even having good sympathetic friends or talking to other parents who have been through a tribunal can be helpful. 

Young people who choose to make an appeal to a tribunal can have help from their parents at any point they wish. They can also get help from other services. See who can help in the download section of this page.

Hackney SENDIAGS can provide information advice and support on preparing for and going to tribunals. 

More information on SEND tribunals

Hackney SENDIAGS (SEND Information, Advice and Guidance Service)

Regional and national : SEND Organisations  Information Sheet

Last updated 26/04/17

See also…

What is Mediation?

IPSEA (Independent Parental Special Educational Advice)

Education Health and Care Plans (EHCPs) information questions and answers...

Special Educational Needs Administration Team

Education, Health and Care Planning Team

EHC plan transfers from statements and Learning Difficulty Assessments (LDA’s).

What is Person Centred Planning?

What is Mediation?

What do they mean? Jargon Buster


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