At Durham Legal Services, 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 a legal definition of a Parent with Care to more recent jurisdiction about shared care and day to day care.
Our team travel all over the United Kingdom including Northern Ireland. We offer a fixed fee which will allow you to identify the financial benefit of having professional representation. If you are considering appeals representation or would like to find out the benefit of having us represent you, please contact us and a member of the team will be glad to assist you.
CMS Tribunal Preparation and Tribunal Representation
When the Child Maintenance Service decide 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 HM Courts & Tribunals Service (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 because once a Tribunal has made a decision on your case, that decision could be carried forward each annual review for the life time of your case so it needs to be right from the beginning.
CMS Appeal Tribunal Representation
If you instruct us to represent you, we can make your appeal application for you or, if it is already underway, we contact HMCTS and obtain a full set of appeal papers. Once we have the papers, time permitting, we can arrange a full face to face appointment or a long telephone appointment to go over the grounds, period and evidence with you. If necessary, we submit case management directions. Additionally, you will be represented in person on the day by a member of our legal team.
What to expect at a Tribunal hearing
Although a Tribunal is meant to be independent from the decision it has in front of it they are not always independent in their approach. Firstly they will ask the Presenting Officer from the CMS to explain the decision and confirm the CMS position. If they are unable to give the CMS position it has become quite normal for them to give their own personal opinion. This can be quite dangerous firstly many are Receiving Parent oriented, and secondly at this point of the hearing none of the evidence has not been heard.
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 answer a lot of very difficult questions, based upon all aspects of their finacial situation. This will invole explaining bank statements, company accounts and day to day living expenses. Other issues that could arise are lifestyle issues, such as care arrangements for the children and since December 2018 any assets owned by the paying parent. You will be expected to know the answers to all of these questions.
This is why you need to be properly prepared and have the correct evidence in front of you along with any other evidence that supports your position. If you are seeking the right outcome whether as a paying or receiving parent, you need proper representation. Preparation is very important because if the Tribunal does not have the correct evidence it can’t determine the case and will seek an adjournment. Not only does this drag the case on it could mean more arrears and more stress. In addition, if the evidence is not supplied and you are deemed deliberately not to be helping the Tribunal, it will allow the Tribunal to simply draw adverse inference and make a judgement based on what it can see and what opinion it forms.
The most dangerous approach taken by the Tribunal is you being considered as an unreliable witness, for example if you don't understand your own evidence. You might be a director of your own limited company and rely upon your accountant to produce company accounts for HMRC and leave it at that, but a Tribunal would expect you to understand every single entry and lots more. If you can't answer these questions, there is a real possibility the Tribunal might find you to be a unreliable witness. Being properly prepared with help from people experienced in attending and representing at Tribunals can save time and money. Avoiding being assessed through adverse inference or as unreliable witness can have a dramatic effect on the outcome of your appeal.
Where people go wrong
Believing you are operating within HMRC rules or Company Act rules and that you are therefore safe is a fools errand, because a child maintenance Tribunal can go behind other legislation with a view to finding income for the purposes of child maintenance. Our team can guide you through the relationship between business legislation and child maintenance legislation. We take you through the whole Tribunal procedure and prepare you for the questions you will be asked and can help to make sure the Tribunal gets the right facts and makes a decision based upon them.
Terms and Conditions Surrounding our Advice Line and Formal Instruction.
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 or call 01207 693966 to purchase your legal advice voucher