The upper tribunal has issued guidance to help claimants who are bringing a case without a representative to support them.
The guidance is very short, barely two pages. But it explains how the upper tribunal should work to meet the “overriding objective”, which is to deal with cases fairly and justly, especially where you are a ‘litigant in person i.e. someone representing themselves.
The document sets out some of the things the upper tribunal will do for you.
It explains that in order to get permission to have your case heard by the upper tribunal, you have to show that there was an error of law by the first tier tribunal. This could be something like the tribunal failed to follow proper procedures or failed to act fairly. For example, they may have stopped you giving evidence that you considered vital or they may have made assumptions based on your appearance without telling you that they were doing so.
Or it could be that they applied the law wrongly, for example, by only taking into account your ability to travel by car when considering points for planning and following journeys.
The guidance explains that you do not need to be able to identify an error of law. It is enough that you explain why you are unhappy with the decision and the upper tribunal judge will then look at the papers and decide if there is a case to consider.
The upper tribunal will also help you to understand what is happening at each stage of the procedure and tell you what you need to do next.
The guidance stresses, however, that the tribunal is impartial so it cannot give you advice on what to argue or how to argue it.
We have seen many Benefits and Work members over the years take their case to the upper tribunal and win. This document offers some reassurance to anyone who is considering doing so.
You can download a copy of ‘Guidance For Litigants In Person’.