First-tier Tribunal (Social Entitlement Chamber) PIP Appeal adjourned “in the interests of justice”
By John Brace – Appellant
Leonora Brace – Appellant’s Representative
Due to the ongoing nature of this matter comments have been disabled.
This is a report on a hearing of the First-tier Tribunal (Social Entitlement Chamber) held on the afternoon of 28th February 2020 at Birkenhead County Court, Birkenhead in relation to a PIP appeal.
The hearing was before Judge PH Wolfenden, Mr PR Ferguson and Dr M L Newton and was listed for 2.45 pm.
The First-tier Tribunal (Social Entitlement Chamber) for the purposes of a PIP appeal from a DWP decision is comprised of a First-tier Tribunal Judge, doctor and disability expert.
The other party (Respondent) to this matter (the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions) was not present.
Representing the Appellant Mr Brace was his wife Mrs Leonora Brace who both co-authors of this piece.
Unfortunately the hearing started around half an hour late (due to a previous hearing scheduled to start at 2.00 pm overrunning). The e-cigarette smoke pervading the waiting area at Birkenhead County Court caused difficulties for both myself and Leonora (the Judge was polite enough to apologise for the delayed start). In fact both Mr and Mrs Brace weren’t feeling particularly well even before this hearing – made worse by the delayed start.
There were three large heavy chairs in front of the three members of the judiciary that comprised the First-tier Tribunal (Social Entitlement Chamber). Mr Brace (Appellant) was instructed to sit on the one in front of Judge PH Wolfenden, Mrs Leonora Brace (Appellant’s Representative) sat to my right in front of one of the others. The one to my left was empty (presumably this would be for the DWP if present) but there was a table in front of us spanning the length of the chairs.
There were a number of issues discussed during the hearing, which lead after a short adjournment to a written “Adjournment Notice” being issued at the end.
One issue was the subject of reasonable adjustments both during that hearing and future hearing/s.
A second issue led to directions being issued in relation to the Respondent (Secretary of State for Department of Work and Pensions).
Item 3 on the written Adjournment Notice circulated in writing to myself and Leonora at the end of the hearing stated,
(ii) The Respondent is required to disclose the appellant’s previous DLA papers as requested by the appellant on page 200 of the appeal bundle within 28 days. If the respondent is not able to disclose those documents then it is to confirm in writing that it is unable to do so. Such confirmation is to be provided within 28 days if necessary.”
Page 200 of the appeal bundle was part of a written submission dated 14th January 2020 (see procedural rule 24(6)) by Leonora Brace to the Respondent’s Response to the Appeal and the reference to page 200 is a reference to paragraph 17 (on which First-tier Tribunal Judge Wolfenden questioned Leonora during the hearing).
Paragraph 17 refers to cases R(M) 1/96,  UKUT 78 (AAC),  UKUT 16 (AAC) and that the Respondent (DWP) had left out of the appeal bundle the medical information used to inform its earlier decisions on DLA in 2000, 2003 and 2008.
As leaving out such information is argued by the Appellant’s Representative as a possible ground of appeal to the Upper Tribunal (Administrative Appeals Chamber), the First-tier Tribunal Judge felt it was “in the interests of justice“ to adjourn for a period of around 8 weeks in order to provide an opportunity for the DWP to either provide this information or explain in writing that it couldn’t disclose it.
The adjournment notice also stated that the three members of this First-tier Tribunal (SEC) (named at the start above) are excluded from future involvement in this appeal.
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