Appeal Hearings, which should you go for a paper based hearing where you don't attend court or attend in person?
We've had this question asked a few times recently so we thought it would be good to put out some thoughts on this question.
There is a potentially better chance of success at Tribunal if you appear in person because the appeal panel have the opportunity to "connect"with you and have the chance to get a first hand account from you of how you struggle with the tasks that are being assessed. Of course the process of being questioned is difficult for many people and the requirement to talk about certain aspects of a daily life of struggling with some things other people find easy can be very upsetting.
There is also the amount of stress that you may endure on the day and in the days leading up to the hearing. Will you get stressed? Will you be able to cope with it?
There is no doubting the effectiveness of appearing in person if you are well prepared, have support on the day and your previously submitted evidence is relevant, presented in chronological order and is demonstrating what aspects of the previous decision you are challenging. Well prepared evidence will make your day in court so much easier and it will help you to "make friends with the judge"
So what about electing for a paper based hearing and not having to attend court? It's certainly going to be less stressful and you won't have to be questioned and possibly placed under scrutiny. However, in not appearing you lose the opportunity to verbally tell your side of the story and show the judge in person why you should be awarded the benefit in question.
There is certainly the possibility that a paper based hearing may reduce the chances of success, simply because the human factor is being removed. However for some people, removing the human factor may be a positive thing as it reduces the chances of becoming distressed, upset or simply not being able to verbalise important information for the judge and appeal panel, which could be damaging to the chances of success if the information isn't documented in the previously submitted evidence.
The quality of evidence and supporting statements are very important for a paper based hearing so that the picture that is portrayed is as accurate and convincing. The evidence portfolio needs to constructed with careful consideration to what information does the judge and appeal panel need to be given to have all of the information they need to award in your favour. There will be no opportunity to tell the judge about that vital piece of information that has just been remembered, therefore all of the information, opinions and supporting statements that will be needed have to be thoroughly thought out and submitted in good time for the panel to be able to consider them.
So on the face of it, the work involved in preparing for a potentially award winning paper based hearing is far more onerous than for a hearing that is going to be attended in person.
Or is it? Would you really not prepare thoroughly and with a clear plan for an in person hearing? Of course not!
So is the decision about whether to go paper based or in person actually just about whether you can cope with the pressure you may feel on the day in court? - Possibly!
Do paper based hearings generally have a slightly lower success rate because the paper based submission hasn't been prepared without any thought as to how to make it easier for the judge and panel to understand the facts of the case and have a clear picture of the daily difficulties of the claimant? - Probably!
Is there a difference between the content and preparation standards of the evidence bundle for a paper based hearing and an in person hearing? - No, they both require thought and attention to detail.
Which should you choose, paper based or in person? - in truth each case needs to be individually considered and all of the human factors taken into account.