Sadly, many parents who use the Child Support Agency (CSA Appeal) or Child Maintenance Service (CMS Appeal) Appeals Service simply do so for revenge. Experience has shown us many NRPs resent the PWC moving on and starting a new life which they feel they are funding. On the other hand, we also have many PWCs who feel the NRP is hiding or manipulating their income.
When this type of case comes up in front of a Tribunal, if it’s not handled properly it can have a disastrous outcome resulting in very high arrears or very high overpayments. The only real option parents have to stop this is to get proper legal representation. To simply say “I can’t afford legal representation” is a false economy; the reality is you cannot afford NOT to have legal representation.
If you have a Tribunal and you have not had legal advice, you could be in trouble. Call us now on 01207 693966 to find out why.
CSA Appeal Tribunal Preparation and Appeal Tribunal Representation
When the Child Support Agency, or the Child Maintenance Service, makes a decision on a child maintenance claim and either parent feels the decision is incorrect their only real option is to take the matter to appeal. An appeal is a process administered by HMCTS and, in most cases, ends with an oral hearing in front of a Judge sitting alone or with a financial expert. If it looks likely your case is going to get to this stage, we strongly recommend you consider one of our services to help you with your appeal preparation.
Preparation is very important because if the Tribunal does not have the correct evidence, it can’t determine the case and may seek an adjournment which drags the time out. However, if evidence is continually not supplied and someone is deemed deliberately not to be helping the Tribunal, it may just draw adverse inference and will make a judgement based on what it can see and what opinion it forms. Being properly prepared with help from people experienced in attending and representing at Tribunals can save time and money by getting it right first time. Avoiding being assessed through adverse inference can have a dramatic effect on the outcome of your appeal.
Full review of appeal papers
You supply us with a full set of the appeal papers, (the Secretary of State submission) We then carry out a full review of grounds of appeal, the period of the appeal and review the evidence to identify its relevance and, where necessary, provide you suggested case management directions to either request additional evidence or seek the Tribunal’s assistance to clarify the evidence it has requested. We then provide you with a full written report and arrange a telephone advice appointment to go over the report in full.
Full appeals representation
If you then decide toinstruct us to represent you, we contact HMCTS and obtain a full set of appeal papers. Once we have the papers, time permitting, we will arrange a full face to face appeal hearing where we go over the grounds, period and evidence with you. If necessary, we submit case management directions. This way we can reduce the risk of an adjournment and further costs and also ensure we are ready to resolve the appeal on the first hearing. As part of this service, you will be represented in person on the day by a member of our legal team, regardless of the location.
Glossary of Terms
In order to demonstrate why you need legal advice to stand a chance of being successful at appeal we have included a glossary of terms:
Grounds of Appeal - The reasons why the original decision was wrong.
It is important to identify all the correct grounds, along with whether the Tribunal has the jurisdiction to deal with the matter. For instance, the Tribunal cannot deal with arrears at all.
Appeal Period - The effective date to the date of the decision.
The tribunal can only look at the period beginning with the effective date and ending with the date of the decision. Many parents struggle with this concept and lose their appeal because they’re relying on circumstances that cannot be taken into account
Appeal Papers Review - This is the full file of evidence you should receive from HMCTS.
Evidence is key to resolving your child support appeal. All parties to the appeal are allowed to submit evidence to either prove or disprove the appeal. A real word of warning: unless you identify and understand the grounds and legislation along with the appeal period, you will be in real danger of losing your appeal. That is why we recommend, as a bare minimum, the use of our appeal papers review service.
Case Management Directions - A written request to the Tribunal to either obtain additional evidence or clarification of existing evidence.
As previously explained, evidence is key to a successful outcome. In many instances, the Tribunal itself will review the papers prior to the hearing and issue case management directions but this option is not limited to the Judge only. Any party to the appeal can send a case management direction request to the Tribunal for its consideration. This is the only opportunity prior to the hearing to request evidence from either the other side or clarification on some other issue from the Tribunal. Again, on this issue, we would strongly recommend one of our services as a good case management request can assist you in reaching a good outcome to your appeal.
CSA Case Closure
Due to the closure of the CSA and the removal of the Assets and Lifestyle Variations, the need to have professional tribunal representation has become even more critical. Most CSA tribunals result in some form of child support arrears however what is now often missed by parents is that all tribunal decisions now set the circumstances for future child maintenance payments along with documentary evidence should the matter ever return back to a new hearing.Even if you think you can’t afford legal representation at a tribunal we urge you to speak to us because if you are involved with either the Child Support Agency or the Child Maintenance Service you simple cannot afford, NOT to be represented
Having tribunal representation at your child maintenance appeal means your chances of getting the outcome you are trying to achieve are a great deal better. Don't underestimate how difficult tribunals now are - they are a legal hearing in front of a Judge and sometimes a financial expert. Both are there to find facts about the case and this will always involve an inquisitorial approach. You should also be aware they are not there to offer either side advice or assistance.
Not every child maintenance case ends up at a First Tier Tribunal hearing, but for those that do it is a minefield if you don't know exactly what you are doing. Proper legal process has to be followed and a hearing will go badly for you if you turn up with no in-depth understanding of Child Support legislation.
Child Support Tribunals have a specific purpose to examine Child Support Agency decisions but they are not for you to stand up and give your best "Rumpole of the Bailey" impersonation. Neither do you have the chance to keep going back to a child support Tribunal over and over again if you don't get the story across properly the first time.
We have represented hundreds of clients at Tribunal and we do believe that, more often than not, proper representation is the only way to go. Contact us today to see how we can help you. The role of the CMS is simply to calculate and collect child maintenance. They don’t have powers to investigate every circumstance to determine income but if it becomes needed because of a dispute, this role is normally then carried out by the child support appeals Tribunal
The Tribunal is allowed to look at income that is not taken into account under the normal rules. It will ask for its own evidence and its job is to find maintenance as allowed within the Child Support Act. It is a formal hearing in front of a Judge and in our experience more and more emphasis is being put on Company formations, treatment of shares and dividends and levels of retained profits.
We feel the best way to explain the importance of professional representation is to read some of our clients’ experiences.
David Carlton “ I attended my first tribunal in 2012 and was made to feel like I was a criminal. The judge was very abrupt and accountant person ripped right into me. He asked questions that I could not answer about my account, things I pay an accountant to take care of. When I left the room I felt sick and devastated. When I had my second hearing I had representation this time by Mike Smith from Durham Legal Services. The difference was like night and day even thought it was the same Judge this time he listened to what I had to say, he suggested to my ex-partner that we such sort out a private agreement, which we did”.
Although child maintenance tribunals are very inquisitorial in their approach, you must remember the Judge is independent of the parties. Not only are they not able to give advice on the case they are only able to consider the evidence in front of them. This means if you don’t raise a particular issue either in your letter of appeal or where possible actually during the hearing, the legislation that governs appeals prevents you from relying upon it if you disagree with the final decision
Tracy McGill “ I am a Company Director and at my appeal my ex asked for my dividends to be included and I did not have a problem with that at all. However, when I received my Decision notice the next day, the Judge had also included income from my shareholders fund although this is money that I keep in the company for a rainy day. I appealed the decision and was told because I did not mention why I needed to keep this level of shareholders’ fund, the Appeal would not be allowed and the fund would be considered. Thankfully, through Durham Legal Services I managed to get the decision set aside for another reason and at the re-hearing the issue of a rainy day fund was mentioned and accepted by the tribunal. I had no idea it would be so strict but it’s a minefield if you don’t have professional help”.
Legal representatives from Durham Legal Service we have attended hundreds of appeals making us the leading company in the country specialising in child maintenance tribunals. Our team of lawyers have been instrumental is shaping child maintenance legislation over the years from the legal definition of a Parent with Care to more recent jurisdiction to make a claim. Our team travels all over the UK, including Northern Ireland, at no additional cost. We offer a fixed fee which will allow you to identify the financial benefit of having professional representation.
John Craig “ I knew I needed someone to represent me because I have a very difficult ex who appeals absolutely everything just to make my life difficult. Having spoken to most solicitors in my town they were either not interested in child support cases or were simply too expensive and I wasn’t convinced they could deal it anyway. When I spoke to Durham Legal Services the first thing they told me was it needs to be cost effective and have added value. I liked that approach and went ahead and instructed them. I have been a DLS client now for two years and they manage all my CSA stuff and have attended 3 appeal hearings for me. I would certainly recommend then to any one with the exception of my ex”.
If you have a Tribunal about to be heard and you have not had legal advice, you could be in danger of not getting the right outcome. We can even help you with fees. Call us now on 01207 693966.
Our Tribunal expertise comes from representing parents since 1996 at all levels of Child Support and Child Maintenance appeals. We represent all over the UK at First-tier and Upper Tier hearings and at short notice. We also offer advice and representation on all aspects of Child Benefit.
We offer three Appeals Tribunal Services
1. Evidence Gathering Service - This is a telephone appointment which takes about 60 minutes. We get an overview of your case and then walk you through the proccess of obtaining evidence. The service can be used by either parent.
2. Full Appeals Paper Review - This involves you sending us a copy of your file when it is then reviewed by one of our appeal lawyers. This telephone appointment takes about two hours where each page of the appeals bundle is explored. We include an Evidence Gathering Service to support the case.
3. Full appeals representation - ALL OF THE ABOVE plus ATTENDANCE & REPRESENTATION AT YOUR HEARING
People seem to think they can’t afford representation but our representation fees are within everybody’s reach. Any Tribunal Judge will tell you that having professional assistance and representation is not only the right thing to do but it’s also real value for money in the long term. With representation, the proper issues are addressed and hearings are resolved more effectively.
Tribunal judges have one role only and that is to interpret child support legislation to achieve the overriding objective of finding the highest child maintenance payment available. The very nature of a Tribunal is inquisitive and any paying parent should expect to get a grilling at the hearing. They will be asked lots of questions about their employment and how it is set up and they will be expected to know the answers. If they don’t, the Tribunal will see them as being unreliable and in most cases will draw its own negative conclusion that they are hiding income.
Being properly prepared and having representation minimises this. We take you through the whole Tribunal procedure and prepare you for the questions you will be asked. By helping you to be more confident with your answers, the Tribunal gets the right facts and makes a decision based upon them.
Terms and Conditions Surrounding our Advice Line and Formal Instruction.
Durham Legal Services UK Limited is the UK’s leading experts in the Child Support Act 1991 and associated legislation and, as such, we are contacted on many occasions by both of the parents connected with the same case looking for advice via our advice line.
Our ethos is to ensure that the overriding objective of the Child Support Act 1991 is achieved, i.e. the best interests of all children connected to the case are served. When contact by both parents has made with us, and because of our ethos, we will not bar either parent from receiving the correct advice. Further, where possible, we will mediate in an attempt to resolve both parents’ issues.
Following our advice calls, we are sometimes instructed by one party to assist further with their case. When instruction is requested, Durham Legal Services will issue a new client pack (NCP). Regrettably, we have increasingly experienced this service being abused by some individuals who have asked for representation but who have had no intention of returning the paperwork or committing to the service. The reason is they believe that by doing so, they stop us from acting on behalf of the other party.
We therefore wish to make it quite clear that an advice appointment is not instruction. All NCPs issued are valid for 5 working days only. After this period, if the paperwork has not been signed and returned to us and the fee payment made, we reserve the right to cancel any instruction from that party and to take instruction from any other party connected with the case. If, later, we are instructed by the other party and issue a second NCP that, again, is only valid for 5 days.
Further, as our ethos is to work in the best interests of the child, we state quite clearly there is no conflict of interest in this policy.
CLICK HERE TO ARRANGE YOUR APPOINTMENT TODAY or Call 01207 693966