Going to the hearing
What will happen when I get to the tribunal building?
Your letter from the tribunal will say when and where your hearing is. You should tell reception when you arrive.
You may have to wait in a separate room. The judges involved in the tribunal will try and make sure that hearings run on time but there can be delays. You could bring something to read and some snacks. There might not be anywhere to buy food or drink.
A tribunal clerk will ask you if you have any last minute evidence that you want to give to the judges. If you’re feeling confused or have any questions about procedures for the tribunal, you can ask the clerk behind the desk.
What will the appeal hearing be like?
A tribunal is not like going to court and is much less formal. The people who decide the case are called ‘the panel’. They will be wearing suits, not robes or wigs. The tribunal is not in a courtroom and there will be no witness box or jury. The tribunal will sit around a table. The panel may have computers on the table. There may be a tribunal clerk who sits at the back of the room.
A tribunal is not like going to court and is much less formal.
In Disability Living Allowance (DLA) or Personal Independence Payment (PIP) appeals there will be:
- A judge,
- A doctor, and
- Someone called a ‘disability member’. They could be a social worker, nurse or occupational therapist or anyone else who understands disabilities.
For Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) appeals there will be:
- A judge, and
- A doctor.
They will ask you questions and take notes about what you say. The panel are trying to work out the facts and will not be aggressive or accuse you of anything.
If your appeal is complicated, there might be someone from the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) at the hearing. They are called a presenting officer and their job is to represent the DWP and put their case across. They can ask you questions about your condition, illnesses or situation. You have to answer any questions they ask you. They can make legal arguments to the tribunal.
How long will my hearing last?
The hearing will last around 30 to 40 minutes. Everyone will speak in everyday English and should not talk about the law or use jargon unless they have to. The tribunal will be based on the facts of your claim. You do not need to know the law to represent yourself.
The hearing will last around 30 to 40 minutes. Everyone will speak in everyday English and should not talk about the law or use jargon unless they have to.
When will they tell me their decision?
The tribunal will usually tell you their decision on the day. They will ask you to step out of the room while they decide. If they cannot make a decision on the day they will send the decision to you by first class post.
If you disagree with the tribunal’s decision, ask for written reasons. You need specialist welfare benefits advice if you want to challenge a tribunal decision, because you can normally only appeal it if they have got the law wrong.