General – Warnings that you may lose points in ‘paper’ Tribunal hearings
In decision CPIP/3480/2016, the Upper Tribunal has strengthened the protection you have if a Tribunal is thinking of reducing your PIP award or taking away points. In this post, the ‘appellant’ is you, the person making the appeal.
Tribunals holding a PIP oral hearing (where the appellant is in the room answering questions) have always been required to warn the appellant that they could lose part or all of their award and (unless they had a representative in the room) then to adjourn the hearing to allow the appellant to think about withdrawing their appeal.
Now the Upper Tribunal has said that Tribunals hearing PIP ‘paper cases’ – where you aren’t present – have to give appellants the same level of protection as they would have in an oral hearing.
This would apply either if you’d asked for a paper case, or if you hadn’t turned up to an oral hearing and the Tribunal had decided to hear your case as a paper case in your absence.
The Upper Tribunal has said that a Tribunal hearing a PIP paper case which starts to think that a person’s award should be reduced or points taken away should stop and consider whether it was still appropriate to continue hearing the case as a paper case or whether it would be fairer to adjourn and ask the appellant to attend an oral hearing when they could be asked about the removal of points. If the Tribunal doesn’t do this, they have made an error in law.
WHAT THIS MEANS FOR YOU
You will have more protection from a Tribunal taking away PIP points If you decide not to come to your Tribunal appeal hearing, or if you fail to turn up to one which you’ve been asked to attend.
If the Tribunal in your absence decided they might want to take away PIP points, they now have to stop and think about whether it would be fairer to adjourn and invite you to attend before deciding what to do.
If you do have a PIP award taken away by a Tribunal after a paper hearing, then you can ask for a Statement of Reasons.
If the Statement doesn’t show that the panel stopped and considered whether it would be fairer to adjourn the hearing and invite you to attend, then you can ask for their decision to be set aside because the Tribunal has made an error in law.
Note that this decision does not stop a Tribunal taking away points in a PIP paper hearing. But it does make it far less likely that a Tribunal will do so without asking you to attend a hearing first to answer questions.
This will apply to all PIP Tribunal decisions after 20 March 2017. This analysis is brought to you free of charge by BuDS Benefit Information Team.
It is only general information and you should take advice on your own case.
You can read the full judgement here: https://www.gov.uk/administrative-appeals-tribunal-decisions/rc-v-secretary-of-state-for-work-and-pensions-pip-2017-ukut-139-aac