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Ben Fullbrook‘s account of the SEN appeal hearing.

“Yesterday I (Ben Fullbrook) attended my first entirely remote SEN appeal hearing.  The hearing involved two representatives, eight witnesses, two parents and the panel.  For reasons connected with COVID-19 only two of us were able to actually attend the hearing in person.  As a result, the Tribunal offered to hold the hearing by online video conference.  The Tribunal used an application called Pexip.  Participants were sent a weblink and a conference ID.  These were easy to use and participants were immediately able to join the conference.  All the participants could see one another and their names appeared underneath their images.  When a person spoke their image was automatically enlarged and brought to the centre of the screen.

Given the complexity of the hearing and the number of participants, I was a little sceptical about how well it would work.  However, my experience was very positive:  witnesses were able to be examined, cross-examined and submissions were made with very little difficulty.  Only one witness had a problem connecting (due to a lack of wifi signal), but this was overcome by having her call my phone in chambers and putting her on speaker so that she could hear and be heard by everyone else.

This seemed to me to be a good example of the profession and the tribunal service working together to ensure that the system can keep going in spite of the current, very difficult conditions.  Most importantly, the child concerned will be able to move forward with his education.

My colleagues at Landmark and our practice management team are very much still available, and are continuing to represent and advise clients.”

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