Decision Summary Information

Back to Results | Search Again | Most Recent Decisions

Neutral Citation Number: 2009 UKUT 239 AAC
Reported Number:
File Number: S 558 2009
Appellant: Hampshire County Council
Respondent: JP
Judge/Commissioner: Three-Judge Panel / Tribunal of Commissioners
Date Of Decision: 24/11/2009
Date Added: 09/12/2009
Main Category: Special educational needs
Main Subcategory: Other
Secondary Category: Tribunal procedure and practice (including UT)
Secondary Subcategory: statements of reasons
Notes: Reported as [2010] AACR 15 Special educational needs – residential placement – whether required on educational grounds or social care grounds Tribunal procedure – statement of reasons – whether adequate reasons for preferring evidence of one expert to that of another The local authority appealed against a decision of the First-tier Tribunal to the effect that a child required residential education 52 weeks a year and named a particular school, notwithstanding that a place might not be available for nine months. By the time the appeal came before the Upper Tribunal, a place had become available and the local authority had decided not to move him even if it succeeded on the appeal. Nonetheless it wanted the appeal heard to clarify points of law, in particular the question whether the First-tier Tribunal had been correct to order a placement that might not be available for nine months, although that question was clearly academic. Held, allowing the appeal, that: 1. the appeal was not wholly academic and the ground of appeal that was academic had been fully argued before the Upper Tribunal against a genuine factual background, was a short point and was linked to the other grounds of appeal, and would therefore be considered (Office of Communications v Floe Telecom Limited [2009] EWCA Civ 47 and R v Secretary of State for the Home Department, ex parte Salem [1999] 1 AC 450 considered) (paragraphs 15 to 18); 2. the First-tier Tribunal’s decision to name the particular school was not erroneous in point of law merely because there was a risk that a place there might not become available for nine months, given that it must, on the evidence before it, have considered there to be a substantial likelihood of a place becoming available by the beginning of the next term, and it was entitled to consider that the amendment it made to Part 4 of the statement of special educational needs was the best that could be achieved for the child once it had accepted his need for a placement in a residential school (paragraph 21); 3. in deciding that the child needed residential education the First-tier Tribunal misunderstood the evidence of a witness, who had accepted the need for continuity in the child’s life but had not conceded that he needed residential education, and that misunderstanding suggested that it might have failed to draw a proper distinction between educational needs and social care needs (paragraphs 25 to 30); 4. the weight to be attached to an opinion expressed on a matter beyond the professional expertise of a witness is likely to be limited and reliance on such an opinion is likely to require some explanation by a tribunal (paragraph 34); 5. the First-tier Tribunal’s decision was erroneous in point of law because it gave inadequate reasons for its conclusion that the child required residential education and for preferring the evidence of one expert to that of another (Flannery v Halifax Estate Agencies Limited [2000] 1 WLR 377 (CA) followed) (paragraphs 36 to 40).
Decision(s) to Download: [2010] AACR 15 bv.doc [2010] AACR 15 bv.doc