downwithallthat

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Archive for the ‘My ESA Tribunal’ Category

The law as it applies to common folk

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I am intending to include an account of my (failed) tribunal eventually, which will be extensive. Currently I am waiting for the Statement of Reasons which will explain why my appeal was ‘disallowed’ as they put it. In fact that was all they put. And is why I am making this post and why it is entitled such.

My hearing was on 13th September, and I received the judgement by post the day after, the clerk having indicated that this would probably be the case.  I had spent months acquiring research evidence about my condition (from peer-reviewed medical journals), had obtained a letter of support from my GP and also included advice from authoritative sources including the DWP itself, and Atos Healthcare’s own Evidence Based material.  Alongside this I submitted an extensive, detailed account/criticism of the HCP’s report pointing out its poor quality, the errors and the instance of the HCP’s blatant misuse of my statement which misled the Decision Maker. I had expected that the panel would consider all that I had presented to them in an impartial and objective way, and fairly. We are all equal in the eyes of the law, they say, so expectations would be that my evidence would be weighed thoughtfully against that provided by the DWP, and a well reasoned  judgement would ensue.

To receive the tribunal’s verdict and find it contained simply a statement that my appeal had been disallowed, with no further exposition, was to experience myself as someone who is therefore insignificant in the eyes of the law. The hidden message behind this lack of entitlement to an explanation is that I am simply not important enough for them to need to justify  their conclusion. This troubles me.

I wrote asking for a Statement of Reasons the next day, which apparently was received by the clerk and forwarded to the tribunal judge on 16th September. In my innocence of the process I expected that it would simply be a matter of printing me off a copy of this document, which I assumed already existed. As the appeal constituted a legal procedure I imagined that records of judgements would be filed with reasons attached as a matter of course.

It seemed to be taking longer than expected, and it was unclear whether a Record of Proceedings was automatically included, so I wrote again requesting this and impulsively queried whether a Statement of Reasons exists outside of an appellants request for one. I truly did not expect to hear back: “You suppose correctly that a statement is only prepared when requested.”  If the panel only produce this retrospectively what form did their judgement take materially at the time, and how long did they deliberate over it, the two of them?

We common folk who bring these cases to them, how readily do we accept what seems to be a final word on the situation from these two authorities, the medical and the legal, united in judgement against us? Especially when it comes in the form of ‘the law says no and we don’t have to tell you why’.

This effect is further compounded by the fact that if you do not feel that the tribunal have awarded a fair judgement you need to ask permission of the judge to be able to take it further. Oh, and the extension of benefit entitlement you had while appealing is removed. So… quite interesting the way law works for us commoners isn’t it?

 

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Written by bigleyma

September 27, 2011 at 8:52 pm