Case overview

Following an annual review, The SEND Regulations 2014 say that local authorities (LAs) must send any decision to amend to parents and young people within four weeks of the annual review meeting. This case looked at when LAs have to tell you what changes they are proposing.

The LA argued that it did not have to send the details of the changes it proposed to make to the EHC plan until later on. The children’s case was that when the LA tells parents that it will be amending the EHC plan, it must set out what the proposed changes are at the same time. 

The High Court had to decide how the law on this point should be understood. Amongst other things, the High Court saw that the annual review process is “front loaded” in terms of gathering and sending out information prior to a meeting. It said LAs could not reasonably know whether to propose amendments to the EHC plan (rather than keep it the same or cease it) unless they had decided for themselves what the potential change (or changes) would be.

The High Court listened to the LA’s arguments about having limited resources but said that this could not influence the meaning of the duty in The SEND Regulations 2014, which the judge decided was clear. 

The High Court decided that, when an LA ends an annual review by proposing to amend the EHC plan, the regulation which requires the LA to “notify” the parent or young person of its decision within four weeks of the annual review meeting and the regulation which sets out the process for amending the EHC plan must be read together.

What does this mean?

This means that your LA must tell you within four weeks of the annual review meeting both:

  • its decision to amend the EHC plan, and 
  • what the proposed changes are. 

The final EHC plan must be issued as soon as practicable and within a further 8 weeks maximum from the date of this notice. Therefore, your LA must send to you the final amended EHC plan within a maximum of 12 weeks from the date of the annual review meeting.  

The full decision for R (L, M, and P) v Devon County Council [2022] EWHC 493 (Admin) is available online.  

You can find more information about the legal process LAs must follow when reviewing and amending an EHC plan in our annual review checklist. If the review or amendment process is not being followed properly, you can use our template letters to take action.