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Scottish Tribunals

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lost in Granite
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As a Scottish WRO I am just newly being faced with Scottish Tribunals addressing issues re Scottish [Devolved} benefits and I am having difficulty following some of the hurdles being placed in our way.

The position in respect of hearings, for example, seems to be telephone or paper by default, with the need to justify requesting in person hearings.

Can I ask my Scottish colleagues who may have more experience of Scottish Tribunals than I have to share their experiences, good and bad with this new system.

Can I also ask Rightsnet to include within their discussion list, Scottish Benefits as a separate issue.

Thank you

[ Edited: 26 Jul 2023 at 10:30 am by lost in Granite ]
stevenmcavoy
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I havent got as far as an appeal yet as most of mine are awaiting an outcome but just for my info…at what point are appeal options being given? are clients being sent a form similar to the old tas1 form (Im sure that was the name of it) by the tribunal service?

lost in Granite
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The Standard [and mandatory] appeal form does not offer tribunal options, unlike the SSCS1 form which does ask what you want. My very limited experience is that persons receive joining instructions for a telephone hearing complete with phone number and appeal code.
As most of my experience is with Social Security tribunals I emailed asking for an in person face to face hearing.

the response I got was a reply email asking me why we wanted a face to face. As I had already discussed it with the service user, who did not want to attend a hearing i let it go.
A colleague who is slightly further behind in the getting to the hearing side of things has experienced exactly the same thing. His client wants a face to face hearing and the tribunal has been notified of that.

stevenmcavoy
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I had assumed, evidently wrongly, that with the appeal being lodged with Soc sec scotland that the tribunal service would then get in touch re the hearing.

I wonder if anyone knows if there will be/is a scottish tribunal user group?

lost in Granite
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To my Scottish colleagues I apologise for the misspelling of Scottish in the original thread name. If you spotted it then I can assure you, you weren’t the first.  I can only claim slip of the keystroke.

Fortunately there is an edit function on the forum , so I think I corrected it.

L

[ Edited: 26 Jul 2023 at 10:35 am by lost in Granite ]
Jane99
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Tangent, but I think relevant.

Appeal papers don’t seem to have a submission from the Scottish ministers explaining their decision/s etc. and there are no actual decisions, only copies of notification letters.

(This is ADP and the argument is about dates and not descriptors; not seen any other SSS appeals yet).

S2uABZ
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Similar experience to the above, requested a F2F hearing and was asked why i wanted this! The client was happy with a telephone hearing so i did not push it. I believe, although i may be wrong, that F2F hearings are more successful than telephone hearings, so clients are at a disadvantage only being offered paper or telephone hearings.

Also, with the HMCTS online system you advise which type of appeal hearing you would like at the start whereby Tribunals Scotland send a letter with the Hearing Casefile, which states - ‘Of course, you do not have to choose to take part in a hearing, and if you wish, the appeal can be decided as a paper case. This means the tribunal will look at the documents that have been supplied and make a decision based on those. Please let us know what you would like to do’.

Also, i believe claimants can submit re-determination and appeals online through - https://signin.mygovscot.org/home/. But this does not seem to be available to reps.

 

 

Va1der
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S2uABZ - 06 October 2023 02:47 PM

‘Of course, you do not have to choose to take part in a hearing, and if you wish, the appeal can be decided as a paper case. This means the tribunal will look at the documents that have been supplied and make a decision based on those. Please let us know what you would like to do’.

Also, i believe claimants can submit re-determination and appeals online through - https://signin.mygovscot.org/home/. But this does not seem to be available to reps.

That sounds worryingly like encouraging appellants to go for a paper hearing. It will be interesting to see stats on unrepresented cases in the future.

I missed the recent ADP update sessions from SSS unfortunately, but reading the slides I could see they were keen to highlight that you can now submit appeals online. When I looked myself though I couldn’t find out how.
If it is indeed via the mygovscot portal that’s a painful choice.

James Aberdeen
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I queried this recently and received this reply:
Dear James,

Thank you for your email. SCTS has estate across the country and should a venue be required for an appellant we will endeavour to use a venue as close to them as possible. Appellants have been requesting telephone/video hearings or paper cases (whereby the parties agree for the case to be determined on the papers alone without parties being before a tribunal). The number of requests for in-person hearings remains extremely low and only in exceptional circumstances will a request for an in-person hearing be granted by the Chamber President.

Kind regards
Kyle

Kyle McGrath | Operations Manager & Delegated Caseworker
First-tier Tribunal for Scotland (Social Security Chamber) | Glasgow Tribunals Centre | 20 York Street | G2 8GT
Telephone:  0141 302 5942
Email: .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

AdviceShop
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I’ve attended fourhearings so far, all by telephone and all bar one were cases where SSS actually submittied that, in fact, an award should be made! They don’t currenly have the powers to lapse an appeal, so these ended up proceeding to hearing. They could probably have been done as paper hearings, but I wanted to attend as a rep.

JP 007
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At the SSCS (Scotland) user group meeting the other day the district chair did confirm that half of the Panel members had been transferred from their chamber to the First-tier Tribunal for Scotland (Social Security Chamber) in anticipation of the drop off from PIP appeals and the uptake of ADP appeals but she was quite clear that they were not in a position to discuss Social Security Chamber’s business. The first thing I noticed was the address the SSS provide if you want to lodge an appeal…. Its their address!
We got this from them yesterday;

‘I can advise that all oral hearings are proceeding, by default, as telephone hearings.
For in-person hearing requests, a list of reasons for this would need to be provided. We would then send this information to a Tribunal convener, who would then have the final say on whether or not an in person hearing would be appropriate.’

It would appear they are making up new rules as we go along so I would suggest this needs to be challenged as soon as possible. I look forward to discussing this at the next Rights Advice Scotland meeting on Friday. Some questions I would like to have answered are;
1. Do the Social Security Chamber have access to the HMCTS premises?
2. Will the Scottish equivalent of the Secretary of State be issuing a submission?
3. Will the option for a face to face hearing be provided as an option in the initial appeal form?
4. Will the appeal form be sent directly to First-tier Tribunal for Scotland (Social Security Chamber) as the independent body they should be?

JP 007
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I missed the recent ADP update sessions from SSS unfortunately, but reading the slides I could see they were keen to highlight that you can now submit appeals online. When I looked myself though I couldn’t find out how.
If it is indeed via the mygovscot portal that’s a painful choice.[/quote]

These Stakeholder sessions are an illustration of the way the SSS are likely to treat up ‘Stakeholders’. They seem to have invented a whole new language of ‘Scottish Government Speak’ which is designed to infuriate and frustrate those of us that like to speak normal English. They don’t like answering questions like ‘Why does it take so long to answer the phone, process a claim or carry out a review?  and don’t get me started on mygovscot portal!!!!

Va1der
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They’ve been fairly amicable whenever I’ve dealt with them, but it is starting to feel a bit unnerving. There seems to be a fair bit of dedication to be “better” than DWP, but they are making a fair few of their own mistakes, and this idea that they’re better also seems to make them somewhat blind to their own issues.

Some issues we raised with them, such as implicit consent, were initially met with “oh, we didn’t think of that!”. While failing to properly include the in person hearing option bears a dangerous ring of “we’re so good at our jobs we don’t need this option”. All seems a bit utopian (in the negative sense of that word). I.e. My current feeling is they’ll be better than DWP in most cases, but will still desperately (and needlessly!) fail some clients.

Jenkin
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I attended a telephone hearing with SSS today.  This was my first SSS appeal hearing and it was for ADP. There were the three members; the convener, a medically qualified member and a disability qualified member (Mr X), and SSS also had a representative present - something I rarely saw in PIP appeals.

The hearing was nearly 2 hours long and the questioning was really arduous for the client.  The tone behind the doctor’s questions, though superficially polite was very much of the ilk of ‘how can we catch this liar out?’  Mr X felt slightly nicer on the face of things, but he started to ask questions about the appellant which seemed invasive and irrelevant; what size house do you have? Do you have land with your house?  How do you maintain it?  Do you have other vehicles and a campervan?  These questions, along with a starter of ‘I know the area where you live very well’ felt threatening.  I was not clear how the line of questions related to my client’s ADP, or how appropriate it was.  My client felt that Mr X, at the least, had been on Google/Bing maps satellite view, and was making a judgement on what he and his wife owned, as his house does have land, he does have a number of old vehicles, including a campervan, all of which were part of a hobby of tinkering with old cars before he became ill, 5 years ago, and therefore felt very uncomfortable.

My client now wants to challenge the right of the appeals chamber to undertake this line of questioning, irrespective of the outcome of the hearing. I have no idea how to go about that, or how to check his rights on this topic. 

To be honest the whole thing had echoes of the unpleasantness of the PIP health assessment interview in that sense and did not feel ‘neutral’ at all.  SSS said at the outset of the hearing that they think my client should have been awarded SR daily living and I agree, although I would also argue for SR mobility.  I am not convinced that the chamber will agree to any of that.

If anyone wants to reassure me that this was ‘normal’ or advise me on how to advise my client, I would be most grateful!

JP 007
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Thanks for this account of an ADP appeal Jenkin,
I presume you will have the Appeal Decision notice today so it will be interesting to hear of the outcome of your marathon appeal. Of course, it could have been an account of a difficult PIP appeal but 2 hours is pretty unusual. I would be interested to know some other details; what input did the SSS rep have, did you raise any concerns regarding the relevance of the line of questioning, were the panel members familiar from PIP appeals and do you know where Face 2 Face appeals may be held in Argyll and Bute and would that location have been convenient?
These first appeals will prove to be test-cases for how they will operate and a chance for us to affect their development. If your client wants to complain it will be a chance to see if they have a Complaints Procedure and if they haven’t a chance to point this out. I think we should all be asking for Statement of Reasons to gain better insight of anything that may differ from PIP appeals.
Would this appeal have gone better if it had been face2face do you think? I have been notified of an appeal and am about to say we want a face2face appeal and will not be providing ‘reasons’ as to why we want to attend. We will see if they insist that I do say why we want to attend.

Elliot Kent
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Do you have experience with UK FtT appeals Jenkin? If so, was it greatly dissimilar?

Obviously, tone is hard for us to judge, but the line of questioning seems relevant to me. Hobbies are often asked about and the size of the claimant’s house is obviously relevant in the context of mobility. You would expect the questioning to address how the claimant’s difficulties affect them in these contexts. If that doesn’t happen, then it is something you should note and come back to when you are invited to put questions to your client.

The use of Google Maps is dealt with in HI v SSWP (ESA) [2014] UKUT 238 (AAC). The tribunal is allowed to look at maps on its own initiative, if that is what it did, but should invite comment on the results.

stevenmcavoy
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a client who lodged his own appeal has been in touch with me.

he sent me what he has for his appeal and it looks like he has been sent copies of the decisions and not a lot else resembling the standard bundle for other benefits.

he is adamant this is all he has received.

is this what others are seeing?

JP 007
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Yes…....no forms, no decision makers notes, just a brief outline of decision.

A Stavert
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I’m currently dealing with my first ADP appeal.  The appellant was initially awarded ADP but without getting advice asked for a re-determination because he thought (wrongly) that it should have been back-dated.  This resulted in a new decision that he was not entitled at all. 
I’ve received the appeal response and am still none the wiser as to why they changed the initial decision.  No new evidence had been sought or obtained and the response contains no argument whatsoever, not even to the extent that they simply took a different view of the evidence submitted with the original claim.

I also received the default video / telephone hearing letter.  I requested an oral hearing as my client lives out in the sticks and only has very slow and unreliable satellite broadband and has to stand outside to get a phone signal.
 
This was put to a tribunal convener who has now ordered an oral hearing, to take an entire morning or afternoon session.

lost in Granite
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Can I ask, did your service user apply for a short term award and did they receive it?

A Stavert
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lost in Granite - 09 January 2024 10:23 AM

Can I ask, did your service user apply for a short term award and did they receive it?

My client did not apply for one.

lost in Granite
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It is your clients right not to apply ,but can i ask Why?

I am interested in STA as a subject.

seand
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lost in Granite - 15 January 2024 11:25 AM

It is your clients right not to apply ,but can i ask Why?

I am interested in STA as a subject.

Are you aware of the possible issues with it?

https://cpag.org.uk/news-blogs/news-listings/jam-today-financial-impact-claiming-short-term-assistance-scotland

Elliot Kent
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seand - 15 January 2024 01:58 PM
lost in Granite - 15 January 2024 11:25 AM

It is your clients right not to apply ,but can i ask Why?

I am interested in STA as a subject.

Are you aware of the possible issues with it?

https://cpag.org.uk/news-blogs/news-listings/jam-today-financial-impact-claiming-short-term-assistance-scotland

That’s a really nasty trap.

HB Anorak
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Elliot Kent - 15 January 2024 03:15 PM
seand - 15 January 2024 01:58 PM
lost in Granite - 15 January 2024 11:25 AM

It is your clients right not to apply ,but can i ask Why?

I am interested in STA as a subject.

Are you aware of the possible issues with it?

https://cpag.org.uk/news-blogs/news-listings/jam-today-financial-impact-claiming-short-term-assistance-scotland

That’s a really nasty trap.

With an easy and uncontroversial fix as well: amend the mainstream benefit regs to say that, for the purpose of any spin-off passported entitlements, carers’ benefits etc, a person who would have been entitled to ADP if they were not entitled to STA should be treated as if they were entitled to ADP.  Would need to be done in arrears following the successful revision/appeal, but that’s how it’s always worked in E&W anyway

seand
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HB Anorak - 16 January 2024 09:35 AM

With an easy and uncontroversial fix as well: amend the mainstream benefit regs to say that, for the purpose of any spin-off passported entitlements, carers’ benefits etc, a person who would have been entitled to ADP if they were not entitled to STA should be treated as if they were entitled to ADP.  Would need to be done in arrears following the successful revision/appeal, but that’s how it’s always worked in E&W anyway

or pay STA at 95% of the ADP rate so that some ADP can be awarded later

lost in Granite
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To be honest i was not aware, but it is good that I know now..  I need to think about this, but it something I need to share with my colleagues, urgently.

S2uABZ
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I’ve had a couple of ADP appeals with little success, i far prefer F2F hearings whereby the Tribunal can see my client and any physical or mental disabilities they may have, that’s if the client agrees. I’ve requested SOR’s for both and i’m still waiting! I find little difference between Tribunal Scotland and HMCTS telephone hearings.

It’s strangely odd that at least with PIP health care assessment reports you had something to argue!! as mentioned earlier SSS appeal packs can be quite vague.

What i’m finding now is that re-determinations are mostly now taking longer than 56 days and clients are not receiving the ‘how to appeal’ letter.

JP 007
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After trying to simply trying to ask for a face to face hearing for our ADP appeal and getting the same stock reply stating all appeals default to telephone I wrote this as a reason.;
To:sscadmin@scotcourtstribunals.gov.uk
Cc:
Fri 05/01/2024 14:38
Re:
We request a face to face hearing as this will help us to present our evidence/case in the best way available to us. We feel that to refuse our request for a face to face hearing would breach our Article 6 (ECHR) right to a fair hearing.
yours

Today I got a reply; (attached)

They don’t seem to understand the my client needs an in person hearing as he sounds quite well on the phone but exhibits his anxiety in stressful situations which would support his case. There may be other reasons for the Scottish Chamber refusing to arrange a FTF i.e. they don’t have any suitable premises?

 

File Attachments

S2uABZ
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‘To satisfy the requirements for exceptional circumstances for an in-person hearing, clear evidence of exceptional circumstances supported by additional evidence such as medical evidence is likely to be required’.

But were not telling you what exceptional circumstances are!!

I was often told by HMCTS Tribunal Judges and GP members that actually seeing a client helped them in their decision making and i don’t mean via video link!

Elliot Kent
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What is the authority for the statement that “An in-person hearing can only take place if there are exceptional circumstances”?