What was the Upper Tribunal decision in  UKUT 305 (AAC) (Brace v Information Commissioner and Merseyside Fire & Rescue Authority)?
I won my Upper Tribunal (Administrative Appeals Chamber) appeal, which has been some good news in the last week. It means the earlier First-tier Tribunal costs decision award of £500 in favour of Merseyside Fire and Rescue Authority has been set aside and has to be re-determined.
The case reference number is  UKUT 305 (AAC) or Brace v Information Commissioner and Merseyside Fire and Rescue Authority. I won on two points of law (one information rights, one welfare benefits rights).
As far as I can my opinion is that the effect of this is it should be binding on cases in lower First-tier Tribunals and persuasive on other Upper Tribunal cases. It was an appeal from the First-tier Tribunal (Information Rights) which is part of the General Regulatory Chamber. It also casts doubt as to whether the costs decision of £7,500 in another case EA/2015/0244 was done the right way. For clarity I was not a party in that case.
Here’s a list of different First-tier Tribunal chambers that can award costs it should be binding on (only in relation to costs decisions):
Health, Education and Social Care Chamber
1) Special Educational Needs and Disability (England only),
2) Care Standards (England and Wales),
3) Primary Health Lists (England and Wales),
General Regulatory Chamber
4) Consumer Credit (United Kingdom),
5) Estate Agents (United Kingdom),
6) Transport (Driving Standards Agency Appeals) (Great Britain),
7) Information Rights (United Kingdom),
8) Claims Management Services (England and Wales),
9) Gambling (Great Britain),
10) Immigration Services (United Kingdom) and
11) Environment (England and Wales)
In future costs decisions:-
a) have to be made by a First-tier Tribunal Judge sitting alone (which will lead to quicker costs decisions made by somebody with at least 5 years legal experience),
b) any income by a party from Disability Living Allowance (mobility) will have to be disregarded as income for the purposes of assessed income for costs,
c) when calculating income from joint awards of two people of Working Tax Credit it won’t be classed as all the income of an individual but be halved.
(a) and (b) are just repeating what the legal situation, but I’m pleased the Judge has seen it my way about point (c) too. Clearly the logic is that if a Working Tax Credit award is joint income for two people it is wrong for the First-tier Tribunal or Upper Tribunal to class it as the income of one person.
Sadly it’s taken me nearly three years to reach this stage (should have really only taken one to one and a half years but I’ve learnt much that’s useful along the way).
The full decision is below (although I haven’t included the accompanying two page letter). I’ve blacked out the Royal Coat of Arms of the United Kingdom which I don’t have permission to reproduce here.
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