SEND Tribunals and virtual hearings
As digital hearings for Tribunal Appeals are likely to continue for some time we have put together some information and tips gathered from various sources and our own experiences to try to make the process as stress free as possible for parents and witnesses attending.
Equipment and WiFi
Check and test your tech equipment, microphone, camera, laptop, Ipad and phone in advance. Make sure your device is fully charged and a mains lead and socket close to hand. You could practise making a video call. This can help everything go smoothly on the day.
There is also the opportunity to practise logging in to Tribunal the day before and check that everything works. If you visit https://join.meet.video.justice.gov.uk/default/ anytime the day before your Hearing and login as a 'Test call' it will walk you through testing your microphone, camera and speakers and place you in a test room for a minute or two, This will make logging in the next day much less stressful.
Find the best place to sit to get adequate lighting and a plain background if possible.
If at all possible use Google Chrome as your browser for the Hearing, it has proven to be the most stable and reliable of the browsers available and it can be easily downloaded to your device.
Remember that if you are accessing the Hearing from your own home the more devices that are actively using your Wi-Fi the slower the speed of the connection. Try to limit or stop other family members using Wi-Fi during the Hearing, you do not want to lose the connection at a vital point in the proceedings.
Check your tribunal bundle, (the digital copy)
- Has the Local Authority (LA) included all the evidence you have sent?
- Is there any evidence from the LA that you have not seen before? If this happens let the panel know at the start of your Hearing.
- Familiarise yourself with your evidence so you can easily find information if asked, create a simple reference sheet or index, post-it notes work well.
if you want to submit any more evidence after the 'further information date' it must be submitted 5 working days before the Hearing. So give yourself enough time to check your bundle and get any additional evidence to Tribunal in time to be considered.
If you realise during the Hearing that you need to submit evidence or evidence is missing you can email the Tribunal – use the subject header 'urgent video hearing in progress' this will then be forwarded to your Judge.
Please check with witnesses before the day that they are prepared and have a copy of the Notice of Hearing, this gives them the log in details. There will be a Tribunal clerk available up to 45 minutes before the Hearing so everyone can check their log in details work and receive help with any technical difficulties, hopefully there will be no last minute panic about joining the Hearing. If needed everyone can access a telephone system and join the hearing that way.
If you will need to communicate with your witnesses during the Hearing, you could set up a witness WhatsApp group or a telephone conference line. During adjournments you can turn your microphone off, or move to another part of your house to have a private conversation.
During the Hearing
Remember that the Panel will be taking notes during the Hearing, so try not to talk too fast, you do not want the Panel to miss any important information you are providing.
Last but not least, Do Not Panic. The Tribunal will have seen everything before and understands the difficulties of holding the Hearing in your home, just take a deep breath and carry on.
We hope everything goes well