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Mediation is a quick and informal method of bringing parties together to discuss their disagreement in a structured way, in the hope that an agreement can be reached.
For the majority of disagreements concerning an Education, Health and Care Plan (EHCP), before an appeal can be started, you will need to at least speak with a mediator about the possibility of mediation. The Special Educational Needs and Disability Tribunal (SENDIST) can allow you to present an appeal without having first considered mediation but this power is discretionary and it may be difficult to convince the Tribunal to use it.
When the local authority writes to you with a decision on an EHCP it must also set out details of the local mediation service it has decided to use.
If you are planning to appeal to the SENDIST, even if you do not want to go through with mediation, you must first make contact with the mediation service. You will have to do so within two months of the date on the decision letter sent by the local authority.
During the mediation session you will be led through the disagreement by the mediator and talk through issues point by point so that there is a structure to the conversation. It is not the same as a Tribunal or Court and you will not need to present a case. However, you will need to have an understanding of the applicable law and it is sometimes useful to at least speak with a lawyer before going to mediation. The people who can attend a mediation session are:
- The parties to the mediation.
- Any advocate or other supporter that you wish to have with you.
- Any other person, with the consent of all of the parties to the mediation, or where there is no such agreement, with the consent of the mediator.
How we can help
Mediation is designed to be an informal process with parents discussing their disagreement with the local authority. As such it may not be necessary for you to be represented at mediation. Representation may only make the mediation overly formal.
If you would however prefer to have a lawyer present because, for example, the local authority conduct has previously left you with concerns, we are happy to offer this service.
We can advise whether mediation is likely to be successful. If you decide to proceed with mediation, we can help to make sure that you are properly prepared.
I am so happy at the outcome, I don't think we would have had such a comprehensive service from any other law firm, and you took the worry away...I do not regret a single second of the whole process, apart from the bit before you got involved.
James' mother, Boyes Turner client