‘Case law’ is the law which is developed by the Courts and Tribunal system.

Where a parent or young person brings a case about SEN to a tribunal they are going to what is known as the First-tier Tribunal (Special Educational Needs and Disability). On the rest of this site, this is referred to as the “SEND Tribunal”. You can read more about going to the SEND Tribunal here. In this section we will refer to it as the “First-tier Tribunal” in order to distinguish it from the Upper Tribunal, which is where an appeal against a decision by the First-tier Tribunal would be heard.

What happens in the First-tier Tribunal does not create case law – that is, it is not binding on later cases. What makes case law (or what lawyers refer to as “precedent”) is where cases go to a higher court, usually the Upper Tribunal or the High Court. Sometimes cases will go even further up to the Court of Appeal or the Supreme Court.

Some of the cases linked below are relatively old, and were decided under the previous law (the Education Act 1996). However, these were the cases which affirmed and established some of the key principles in SEN law. Many of the statutory provisions under the Education Act 1996 are essentially the same as those under the Children and Families Act 2014. All of the cases below which refer to Statements continue to be relevant for children and young people with EHC Plans.

Read case summaries