Sir Ernest Ryder, senior president of tribunals, has told a gathering of barristers that most of the decisions that the DWP tries to defend at tribunals are so bad that they have no case at all and cannot hope to win.
According to the Buzzfeed website, Ryder also said that the quality of DWP evidence, in particular medical assessment reports for PIP and ESA, was so poor that it would not be accepted in any other court.
The percentage of appeals that the DWP lose has risen from 44% in 2007 to 61% now.
Ryder told a Bar Council event:
“Just as an experiment in Leeds, my judges used their lunch hour to take the wall of paper files and go through them to see what the percentage of no-brainers might be,” Ryder said. “That is, [ones where] there could be no argument in law or on facts that the appellant wouldn't win. It was spot-on 60%.”
Ryder said the court typically did not “even know what the professional qualification or registration number was of the author”. He said this meant “in expert evidence terms in any other organisation you and I know of, it would be wholly inadmissible.
“And yet we are expected to take those documents, some of which are amended and we only know they're amended by the computer line at the bottom but we don't know by whom or in what circumstances, we're expected to take that and rely upon it as our primary evidence before the court starts to ask questions and come to determination.
“So it's hardly surprising if that's the quality of the base product that's relied on, for example, where it's a telephone assessment that leads to it, that you then find when you look at the wall, 60% of it is a no-brainer. On a long-term basis that just can't be right."
Ryder says that the Tribunals Service are now considering either sending cases back to the DWP where there is no reasonable defence to the appeal or charging the DWP for defending such cases.