On 20/05/2021 our education senior associate solicitor Chris Barnett received a fantastic judgement ruling, relating to a sensitive case involving a child with special educational needs.
The claimant, BA, was a child who has complex special educational needs including global developmental delay, severe ASD and physical and neurological symptoms, including a life-limiting medical condition. In May 2020 the Local Authority issued an amended EHC Plan for them following a Tribunal appeal brought by their parents. The new EHC Plan included, in particular, increased levels of therapy (Speech and Language, Occupational and Physiotherapy), which were however not then put in place for him. The claim challenged the LA’s failure to comply with its duty under section 42 of the Children and Families Act 2014 to secure all of the provision in the EHCP.
The Court found that there had been “excessive delay” by the LA in arranging the provision and that as at the date of the hearing - one year after the Plan was finalised - there were a number of aspects of the provision that were still not in place, so that the LA was in breach of its duty. The Court found that “even if the LA is entitled to a reasonable time to implement the provision and even in the context of a pandemic, one year is not a reasonable period of time.” In relation to what would have been a reasonable time, the Court went on to agree that where a Local Authority is given 5 weeks from the date of a Tribunal decision in which to amend an EHCP, “the five week period built into the statutory scheme is to allow preparation for implementation, and that the bulk of the programme at least should have been in place within that five week period.”
You can read the full case information here: