QUEEN'S BENCH DIVISION
THE ADMINISTRATIVE COURT
Tuesday, 24th June 2003
B e f o r e :
|THE QUEEN ON THE APPLICATION OF C||(CLAIMANT)|
|THE SPECIAL EDUCATIONAL NEEDS AND DISABILITY TRIBUNAL||(1ST DEFENDANT)|
|LONDON BOROUGH OF BRENT||(2ND DEFENDANT)|
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THE 1ST DEFENDANT DID NOT APPEAR AND WAS NOT REPRESENTED
MR P OLDHAM (instructed by BRENT LONDON BOROUGH COUNCIL LEGAL SERVICES) appeared on behalf of the 2ND DEFENDANT
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"... as I read s.2, [as it then was] it is dealing generally with the arrangements made for special educational provision by a local authority, in the sense of the numbers and types of school it arranges to have available and the skills and facilities available within those schools to meet special educational needs. It is not either in its language or context, apt to impose any duty or function in relation to the progress of specific pupils for whom provision has been made and, hence, does not address itself to the health or welfare of individual pupils such as the plaintiffs."
"In exercising or performing all their respective powers and duties under the Education Acts, the Secretary of State, local education authorities... shall have regard to the general principle that pupils are to be educated in accordance with the wishes of their parents, so far as that is compatible with the provision of efficient instruction and training and the avoidance of unreasonable public expenditure."
"(1) Where a local education authority are satisfied that it would be inappropriate for -
(a) the special educational provision which a learning difficulty of a child in their area calls for, or -
(b) any part of such provision
To be made in a school, they may arrange for the provision (or, as the case may be, for that part of it) to be made otherwise than in a school.
(2) Before making an arrangement under this section, a local education authority shall consult the child's parent."
"As we were satisfied that M's special educational provision could be appropriately met in a school, having regard to the provisions of Section 319 of the Education Act 1996, and the recent decision in T v Special Educational Needs Tribunal and Wiltshire County Council  EWHC 1474, to specify that M should be educated otherwise than at school was not an option open to us. Hence, although we fully appreciated Miss C's preference for her son to be educated at the SLC, and we found Mr Philips a helpful witness, these were not factors which could enable us to invoke Section 319. Had we been able to consider 'education otherwise' we would have had great difficulty in considering SLC suitable in the absence of independent evidence as to its effectiveness for M."
"Whatever the reason, it seems to me that if there was inadequate information, the Tribunal should have taken steps to obtain it, if necessary adjourning to do so. Tribunals, so it seems to me, cannot proceed on a purely adversarial basis, but have a duty to act inquisitorially when the occasion arises by making sure they have the necessary basic information on which to decide the appeal before them, rather than rely entirely on evidence adduced by the parties. The Tribunal will usually have much greater relevant expertise than the parents who appear before them."