Costs of Counsel at SEN tribunals

Currently waiting for a response from Wirral Metropolitan Borough Council, they should respond promptly and normally no later than (details).

Dear Wirral Metropolitan Borough Council,

I wish to make a freedom of information request in relation to children with SEN on the borough. Please respond to the following:

1) How many refusal to assess tribunals were lodged by parents during the financial years 2017/18, 2018/19, 2019/20.

2) Of each of the years above, in how many cases did the Authority seek the advice of legal services to defend cases including in house or external locum solicitors?

3) Of each of the years above, in how many cases did the Authority seek the advice of or representation by counsel to defend cases?

4) How many refusal to issue EHCP tribunals were lodged by parents during the financial years 2017/18, 2018/19, 2019/20?

5) Of each of the years above, in how many cases did the Authority seek the advice of legal services to defend cases including in house or external locum solicitors?

6) Of each of the years above, in how many cases did the Authority seek the advice of or representation by counsel to defend cases?

7) How many content or placement (B, F, I) EHCP tribunals were lodged by parents during the financial years 2017/18, 2018/19, 2019/20? Please include national trial appeals where relevant.

8) Of each of the years above, in how many cases did the Authority seek the advice of legal services to defend cases including in house or external locum solicitors?

9) Of each of the years above, in how many cases did the Authority seek the advice of or representation by counsel to defend cases?

10) How many Judicial reviews were lodged in relation to children with SEN during the financial years 2017/18, 2018/19 and 2019/20?

11) Of each of the years above, in how many cases did the authority seek the advice of legal services to defend cases including in house or external locum solicitors?

12) Of each of the years above, in how many cases did the authority seek the advice of or representation by counsel to defend cases?

13) During the financial years 2017/18, 2018/19 and 2019/20, what was the overall cost of legal services to advise the SEN department around EHCP cases. Please include commissioning costs of the service by the SEN department if these differ on a case by case basis and an overall 'annual cost' of legal services. Please include all tribunals for each year as an overall cost ie refusal to assess, issue and B/F and/or I appeals - overall cost for all.

14) During the financial years 2017/18, 2018/19 and 2019/20, what was the overall cost of using Counsel to support the SEN department or legal services in tribunal applications made by families. Please include all tribunals for each year as an overall cost ie refusal to assess, issue and B/F and/or I appeals - overall cost for all tribunals and all counsel charges incurred and include those conceded ahead of the hearing if costs were incurred.

15) in response to question 15 'overall cost' can you please break the costs into the following:
a) Travel costs for counsel to attend hearings to include any transport and hourly travel rates charged
b) preparation costs where counsel has perused the files and prepared for a hearing
c) hearing attendance - costs for attending at tribunal in person
d) Miscellaneous - any other costs associated with counsel relating to EHCP cases

I look forward to receiving a full response to all of the above.

Yours faithfully,

Mrs Susan Peacock