You do not need to have a lawyer to go to the SEND Tribunal. The vast majority of parents do not have a representative, and are frequently successful in their appeals. The majority of cases settle before the hearing (an average of 75%, based on figures from 2011-2016), meaning the parent or young person registered an appeal, but then came to an agreement with the local authority before the hearing. Of those which go on to a hearing, the majority (over 80%, from 2011-2016) are decided in favour of the parent or young person.

You may be able to get help preparing your appeal from the following places.

Legal aid

If you are on a low income or receiving certain types of benefits, you may be eligible for legal aid. The type of help available in the SEND Tribunal is known as ‘legal help’. A parent or young person eligible for this will receive support from a solicitor to prepare the case, and may also be able to obtain funding for any additional evidence needed such as reports from independent experts. It does not cover having a representative to attend the hearing.

You can calculate whether you qualify for legal aid here.

Information, Advice and Support Services

Your local Information, Advice and Support Service (known as IASS, or SENDIASS) should be able to provide advice and possibly someone to support you in bringing an appeal. You can find out about your local service from the Council for Disabled Children’s website.

IPSEA

You can get advice about your appeal from IPSEA’s Tribunal Helpline. You can book an appointment with one of our trained volunteers here.

This service isn’t available if you are being supported already by a solicitor or other advocate.

When you call we will also assess whether you need casework support from our Tribunal Support Service. This service does depend on the availability of our volunteers at the time your appeal is taking place and a caseworker cannot be guaranteed.