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Forum Home  →  Discussion  →  Decision making and appeals  →  Thread

Absence of Statement of Reasons and Record of Proceedings - How to proceed?

ELC
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Welfare Benefits

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Joined: 29 September 2021

Dear Colleagues,

I would be grateful for some advice on this issue.

The background is that following a First-tier Tribunal Hearing in May 2021, a SORs and ROPs was requested as we were unhappy with the decision and wanted to consider seeking permission to appeal to the UT. The SORs and ROPs have yet to be produced. We have been in touch with the Tribunals Service to chase this up and have been told that the matter is still with the judge. As it is now at least 5 months since the requests was made, the delay seems unreasonable. I am thinking this may be enough for the decision made at the Hearing to be set aside.

I would welcome thoughts on how to proceed, and the legal basis for such an approach.

Thanks

Elliot Kent
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A failure to produce an SOR in a timely fashion does not itself provide grounds to set aside a decision - see CA v SSWP [2013] UKUT 168 (AAC) and SJ v SSWP [2014] UKUT 222 (AAC). Delay accompanied by other factors such as a loss of notes may however result in the decision being set aside - see LW v SSWP [2015] UKUT 214 (AAC).

There is plenty of precedent that delay in producing decisions or reasons for them can constitute judicial misconduct and therefore grounds for complaint in a given case (although I am not saying that is the case here).

I don’t think I would be requesting set aside or making complaints at 5 months, but I think it would be reasonable to chase this up again perhaps intimating that this may follow if the SOR is not issued soon and asking whether there are any specific reasons for the delay such as ill health or loss of paperwork. If the judge dealing with the case is fee paid, you could ask that the relevant District Tribunal Judge take a look. I suspect this sort of approach will result in the SOR turning up.

Mike Hughes
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Senior welfare rights officer - Salford City Council Welfare Rights Service

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I think one has to factor in that a few regions (all?) have moved to a recording of a telephone hearing being the ROP as the default. That, in itself, creates numerous issues. If the judge then struggles to have access to that in order to write an SOR having been advised that their notes would not necessarily be needed. Most are still working from home and HMCTS appears to be insisting panels move back to venues for hearings and, effectively, for other work too (such as SOR writing) because they’re not supplying the appropriate equipment for home use.

Paul Stockton
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Elliot Kent - 08 November 2021 07:54 PM

A failure to produce an SOR in a timely fashion does not itself provide grounds to set aside a decision - see CA v SSWP [2013] UKUT 168 (AAC) and SJ v SSWP [2014] UKUT 222 (AAC). Delay accompanied by other factors such as a loss of notes may however result in the decision being set aside - see LW v SSWP [2015] UKUT 214 (AAC).

There is plenty of precedent that delay in producing decisions or reasons for them can constitute judicial misconduct and therefore grounds for complaint in a given case (although I am not saying that is the case here).

I don’t think I would be requesting set aside or making complaints at 5 months, but I think it would be reasonable to chase this up again perhaps intimating that this may follow if the SOR is not issued soon and asking whether there are any specific reasons for the delay such as ill health or loss of paperwork. If the judge dealing with the case is fee paid, you could ask that the relevant District Tribunal Judge take a look. I suspect this sort of approach will result in the SOR turning up.

I’ve found a letter to the Chamber President has produced a result. That might seem a bit over the top but at that time HMCTS wouldn’t tell me who the regional judge is, and in my area we seem to have more DTJs than you can shake a stick at.