Decision : Closed after initial enquiries
Decision date : 29 Mar 2018
The Ombudsman's final decision:
Summary: The Ombudsman cannot investigate this complaint about the Council’s refusal to refund to the complainant the cost of the legal representative he used in his SEN Tribunal appeal. This is because the matter has been considered by the Tribunal and is therefore out of our jurisdiction.
- The complainant, who I refer to here as Mr J, complains that the Council has refused to reimburse him for the cost of his legal representative for the appeal he made to the SEN Tribunal. He feels that the Council should do so as his appeal was upheld, and he says that the Council acted unreasonably in its defence of the appeal.
The Ombudsman’s role and powers
- The Local Government Act 1974 sets out our powers but also imposes restrictions on what we can investigate.
- We cannot investigate a complaint if someone has appealed to a tribunal. (Local Government Act 1974, section 26(6)(a), as amended)
- SEND is a tribunal that considers special educational needs. (The Special Educational Needs and Disability Chamber of the First Tier Tribunal (‘SEND’))
How I considered this complaint
- I considered the information provided by Mr J, and I sent him an initial view for his comments.
What I found
- Mr J has a child who has Special Educational Needs which are met through an Education and Health Care Plan.
- Mr J was dissatisfied with the provision made by the Council in his son’s EHCP, and exercised his right to appeal to SENDIST.
- The Tribunal upheld Mr J’s appeal.
- Mr J is unhappy with the Council’s actions with regard to this appeal to SENDIST. He says that that it acted unreasonably in its defence of the appeal, and has made a detailed complaint about the actions of its officers leading up to and during the appeal hearing. He applied to the Tribunal for costs for his hearing on this basis.
- The Tribunal refused his application.
- Mr J has now complained about the Council’s actions to the Ombudsman, to support his request for the LGSCO to recommend reimbursement of his costs.
- We cannot consider this complaint or Mr J’s desired outcome. This is because the matter has already been considered by a Tribunal. All actions connected with it, whether or not considered by the Tribunal in making its decision, are out of our jurisdiction.
- I cannot investigate this complaint about the refusal to reimburse Mr J for his expenses incurred during his SENDIST hearing. This is because the matter has been considered by a Tribunal and is therefore out of our jurisdiction.
Investigator's decision on behalf of the Ombudsman