What's involved for Education Authorities or Responsible Bodies?
The Additional Support Needs Tribunals for Scotland (ASNTS) have been established with the objective of providing an independent and expert body to adjudicate on certain disputed matters relating to additional support needs.
The aims of the ASNTS are:
to provide independent and expert decision making, impartially, efficiently and effectively, in accordance with the relevant legislation
to seek informality and flexibility in the proceedings
be accessible to users
When the Education Authority or Responsible Body receives a letter informing them that a reference or claim has been registered, they are asked to respond no later than the end of the case statement period. The Education Authority or Responsible Body has 30 working days to consider if there are further documents they wish to include or if they want to send a statement of arguments. If the information in the reference or claim is sufficiently detailed, the Education Authority or Responsible Body will be able to make an informed response and will have no need to duplicate the documents already received from the parent or young person. The response must say whether the reference or claim is opposed and, if it does, it must say why and provide evidence of this.
There is no requirement on the parent or young person to produce a case statement but there is a requirement for the Education Authority or Responsible Body to respond otherwise they may no longer be entitled to take part in those proceedings. The Additional Support Needs Tribunals for Scotland (Practice and Procedure) Rules 2006, rule 10(4).
Once the case statement period has ended we will send the ‘bundle’ of tribunal papers to you or your representative. This contains all the information provided by parties, as well as the original reference or claim and any preliminary decisions or directions made by the convener. These bundles are also sent to the parent, young person or their representative and to the tribunal to help everyone prepare prior to the hearing.
Case Conference Call
A case conference call with the convener and both parties will normally be fixed for shortly after the end of the case statement period to discuss how the hearing will proceed, confirm what witnesses are to be called and to agree a running order. It is also an opportunity for parties to clarify any preliminary issues prior to the hearing. Parties should consider if they intend to call witnesses; parties or their representatives are expected to ensure that they have checked the availability of all witnesses, in advance of the conference call, and are able to present possible hearing dates to the convener during the conference call. Unless there is a good reason not to do so, the convener will normally fix the hearing date during the call. Once fixed, the hearing date will only be changed in exceptional circumstances.
The President has issued GUIDANCE TO TRIBUNAL MEMBERS No 02/2016 to clarify the purpose of the pre-hearing case conference call and the procedures to be employed by the convener.
A tribunal of three people will hear the reference or claim; a convener, who has a legal qualification, will chair the hearing and the two members, who have knowledge and experience of children or young persons with additional support needs within the meaning of the 2004 Act.
It is possible for a witness to give written evidence or to speak to the tribunal by telephone conference call if they are unable to attend in person.
We hold hearings throughout Scotland. In selecting the venue we ensure that this is at a location which is private and convenient for both parties. We will try to arrange a venue close to where the parent, child or young person lives. Hearings are held in normal working hours, most start at 10:00 am. Hearings are held in a variety of venues including, universities/colleges, business centres or hotels and in some local authority premises, where parties consent.
It is difficult to say how long a hearing will last, some will last one day but more complex cases, where there may be additional witnesses, such as placing requests or disability discrimination claims can last longer.