Case law: Eleven landmark cases and some more recent decisions
‘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 the Tribunal they are going to what is known as the First-tier Tribunal. What happens in the First-tier Tribunal does not create case law – that is, it is not binding on another case. What makes case law or what the 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.
You find links to four key recent cases below:
- Appeals involving young people and their rights to EHC plans: Buckinghamshire CC v SJ  UKUT 0254 (AAC). This is a key case confirming the wide category of young people for whom an EHC plan might be necessary, and the fact that it is not limited to those studying for, or capable of attaining qualifications. It also addresses how Tribunals should deal with appeals where a young person lacks capacity to conduct their own appeal.
- Right to a mainstream education: Bury Metropolitan Borough Council v SU  UKUT 406 (AAC). This is a key case confirming beyond doubt that “suitability” is not a relevant condition when considering the general right for a child with a statement to a placement in a mainstream school
- Costs of school placements : Haining and Warrington Borough Council  EWCA Civ 398. This is a landmark Court of Appeal case on the calculation of costs in Tribunal cases which IPSEA was pleased to be involved with. Read our press release here.
- Transport: Dudley Metropolitan Council v Shurvington  EWCA 346 This is a Court of Appeal case which clarified the issues where the LA was arguing that there was a nearer suitable school.
We also include in this section summaries of eleven landmark cases in SEN Law. Some of these are relatively old cases but these were the cases which affirmed and established some of the key principles in SEN law.
- Ex parte E: statements must not be vague
- L v Clarke and Somerset: Part 3 must specify hours
- Hereford and Worcester: transport must be non-stressful
- Surrey CC ex parte H: placement cannot be best option
- Lancashire judgement: speech therapy is an educational need
- Isle of Wight: therapies: when educational?
- Bromley: therapies can be educational based on a wide definition of education
- Crane: parents’ choice important
- Pittick: LAs must pick up the tab if schools won’t pay
- Cumbria: a band or matrix position is not enough
- Phelps: professionals can be negligent and LAs and schools can be vicariously liable