Decisions of a Tribunal

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    Last month, I had three non-commercial / contrived Appeals that went to Tribunal. I was sure we would win them all, but we did not.
    Two relate to renting from family where it is obvious that the dominent purpose was to accommodate the Claimant and an arrangement that would have occurred whether HB paid or not. In each case the properties were purchased specifically for the Claimant. In addition, it is obvious from the facts that the properties were purchased specifically to suit the requirements of the Claimant, rather than a commercial letting. There were no buy-to -let mortgages obtained or alternatively permission from the lender was not obtained; something a person not in the benefits world, particulaly these people who were obviously well educated, would know has to be obtained, particularly with all the property ladder programmes on the TV. Obviously there were other factors, but they all seemend to confirm the decision that HB could not be paid.
    The third case related to the Reg 9 – 5 year rule. In this case the “LL” and Claimant were old friends. The LL bought the Claimant’s property and following an Appeal hearing, the decision that HB could not be paid at this address was upheld at Tribunal. Subsequently, some 18 months later – during which time no rent was paid and no action was taken regarding non-payment of rent, the LL moved the Clmt to another one of his properties; a property that was specifically renovated for the Claimant. The Claimant then moved to this property and claimed HB. The LL then moved a different Claimant to his old property where that Claimant now receives HB. The HB for the Claimant at his new address was refused on the basis that the arrangement was contrived and non-commercial.
    At the Tribunal Hearings the Chair made it quite clear that his personal opinion was that “why should these people not get HB where they are because they would only claim HB somewhere else anyhow”.
    I have now had SOR’s with a view to appeal these decisions to the Commissioner. However, I cannot really see where there has been an error in law…..I think the Chair knew I would appeal due to my “passion”. As such the SOR’s states things like “I looked at all the evidence”, the Claimant was believable, I have considered R (H) 1/03 etc
    The only points I think I can raise are that: 1) The Chair did not, in fact, take into account the full facts of the case….and state why and which ones he missed out 2) That during one of the Appeals he allowed All parties into the Tribunal together so that they could hear each other’s answers and collaborate their stories. 3) There was no documentary evidence to verify the answers given.
    Can anyone give me any other ideas. I know it is difficult without seeing the doc’s, but someone may have similar cases.
    I have had “copy cat” cases with another chair where the decision(s) were upheld, I honestly believe this Chair was very Claimant orientated. That day he allowed every Appeal including those for other benefits.
    Or should I just bite the dust?


    How long have I got!

    I have similar frustrations with Appeal Tribunal Chairmen (in fact I very rarely win these cases) and I also have asked for SORs with a view to further appeal but I have come to the conclusion that it is a waste of time. You have to clearly identify an issue of law where the Tribunal has erred, as you say, and generally it hasn’t. I’ve also appealed to Commissioner on “Wednesbury unreasonableness” grounds but the outcome is that the Commissioner merely has to satisfy himself that the Tribunal considered all the evidence (which includes oral evidence from clt) and if it has he has no grounds for changing the decision just because the LA wasn’t happy with the outcome.

    It follows that the only valid ground of your three is the first one. It is usual for all parties to be present at a Tribunal – the rules of evidence in a criminal court don’t apply. I frequently have LLs speaking on behalf of the clt in Reg 9 cases and they are both in the room together. Equally there is no reason why oral evidence cannot be accepted.

    Good luck!

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