First-tier Tribunal (Social Entitlement Chamber) PIP Appeal adjourned for second time
By John Brace – Appellant
Leonora Brace – Appellant’s Representative
First publication date: Friday 17th December 2021, 17:31 (GMT).
Due to the ongoing nature of this matter comments have been disabled.
Appellant: Mr John Brace represented by Mrs Leonora Brace
Respondent: Secretary of State for Work and Pensions (“DWP”) represented by a Presenting Officer
Case number: SC062/19/01113
Location: 76 Hamilton St, Birkenhead CH41 5EN (ground floor)
Mode of hearing: Hybrid (face to face/phone)
Date and time of hearing: Tuesday 14th December 2021, 10.00 am
Type: First-tier Tribunal (Social Entitlement Chamber)
The weather was foggy and cold.
There were a number of timed parking bays outside the Court building in Hamilton Street, Birkenhead near the start of the disabled access ramp. With a Blue Badge you can park there for 3 hours.
We went up the disabled access ramp to the entrance (the disabled access ramp has a handrail which unfortunately was too wet to easily be used), then you go through a doorway to your right.
Court security is now combination of going through an arch (which is a change from February 2020) and being “wanded”. Court security officers will wear face coverings which completely muffled what was said by court security officers. There are now also floor markings on the floor (which weren’t there in February 2020 such as footprints the other side of the arch). Once you have gone through court security we headed towards the seats near the entrance to the Tribunal Room doors and sat opposite a notice board (with windows to the outside (Hamilton Street) behind us). The notice board has a variety of different notices pinned to it.
A Tribunal Clerk met us there later on and after a brief explanation took us both to the Tribunal Room.
The entrance doors to the Tribunal Room are extremely heavy and swing back and can hit you hard on the way in (and out) there are unfortunately two doors.
Once inside the Tribunal Room has changed in a number of ways since the last hearing.
There is now a raised area (where the judiciary sit) which splits the room into two. The judiciary are sitting in a socially distanced way. The First-tier Tribunal Judge is face on (from the perspective of where we) in the middle of a large table, the doctor and disability members are sitting “side on” on the end of a table facing at a 90 degree angle different to the Judge.
The Tribunal Clerk is also present towards the back of the room. There is a flat screen LCD panel on the wall to the left (with a built in webcam), although this was turned off. There are a lot of bottles of hand sanitiser. There was also a corded phone in front of the First-tier Tribunal Judge.
This was used to join in a party during the hearing and was operated by the Tribunal Clerk who had to come round to the front of the table to do it.
In addition to the door that we and Tribunal Clerk came through at the back right, there is a door/doorway at the far left too.
The table in front of parties was large enough for documents eg a hearing bundle.
Lighting was fluorescent lighting provided from the ceiling.
Generally the ventilation in this building was now better than the February 2020 hearing and there no people smoking in the waiting area this time (compared to the one whilst waiting for the previous hearing in February 2020).
The First-tier Tribunal Judge made it clear at the start of the hearing that it was an appeal of the Respondent’s mandatory reconsideration decision dated 24th October 2019, which related to the Respondent’s earlier decision dated 4th September 2019.
During the hearing, the First-tier Tribunal Judge tried to move the phone closer to the doctor (the doctor was speaking at the time and some distance away from her due to social distancing), unfortunately in doing so the phone snagged on a cable, the receiver fell off and cut off the Presenting Officer for the DWP. The Tribunal Clerk then had to come around and sort this out which caused delay.
Towards the end of the hearing, the First-tier Tribunal Judge asked the Tribunal Clerk to print copies of pages that had not been seen by the doctor & disability members and us but had been emailed to the First-tier Tribunal. Unfortunately although the Tribunal Clerk tried, this was not possible to achieve at first. The Tribunal Clerk later had to print the documents on a printer on a different floor of the building, the time spent going to collect them and returning caused a delay.
The case was adjourned due a future date (the date is yet to be determined). This was because insufficient time was allocated when it was listed (this hearing was listed for a ½ day but the First-tier Tribunal Judge’s opinion was that a full day was needed). The future hearing will be heard by a different Tribunal Panel.
A recently published Liverpool Echo article details how often different benefit decision types are changed when appealed to the First-tier Tribunal following the publication of recent statistics.
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