General – Tribunal Warning before Reducing Award
In decision CPIP/1423/2016, the Upper Tribunal has changed the rules about when and how a Tribunal must work if there is a risk that they might remove or reduce an award.
Until now, it has been required for Tribunals to BOTH warn anyone that they could lose part or all of their award AND then to adjourn to allow the person to think about withdrawing their appeal.
That still applies if you do not have a representative in the hearing with you. If you do have a representative in the hearing with you, however, the Upper Tribunal says that the Tribunal needs only to warn you about the risk of losing part or all of your award. It is then up to your representative to ask for an adjournment for you to consider withdrawing your appeal – it is not required for the Tribunal to automatically adjourn.
WHAT THIS MEANS FOR YOU
Obviously, if you do have a representative in the hearing with you, make sure they know about this decision (they ought to, but no harm in checking). It’s now up to them to advise you what to do if the Tribunal does warn you that you may lose some or all of your award.
The other thing to think about is the quality of your representative. Sometimes friends or parents or care workers act as representatives in hearings. Such people are not likely to understand the finer points of the law and their lack of knowledge might expose you to risks like this one.
Remember that anyone can come into the hearing with you as a supporter and to talk to the Tribunal panel – you don’t need to be a representative to do this. If you do appoint a representative, you should think carefully before appointing anyone who isn’t a specialist welfare rights worker or a lawyer/solicitor.
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: http://administrativeappeals.decisions.tribunals.gov.uk//Aspx/view.aspx?id=5023