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School appeals - What to do if the appeal fails?

28 May 2009, 15:06 by Ian jones

Labels: admissions, barrister, school-admission, school-appeal, school-appeals, school-governor, secondary, secondary-school, special-educational-needs, student

Independent Appeal Panels are working through the backlog of appeals for primary and secondary school places and grammar school appeals. Appeals submitted by the local deadline (which varies across the country) need to be heard and decided by the end of the first week in July.

 Statistically about one in three appeals is successful, so the majority will not be allowed. This statistic masks a range of experience, depending on the type on school and the respective strengths of the admission authority's case and that of the parents.

Many appeals are still waiting to be heard. It may not be too late to obtain professional advice for your child's appeal or representation at the hearing. Please click here for further details.

But if you have already been through the appeal process, what can you do if your school appeal fails? If an independent appeal panel refuses your admission appeal, this decision is final and binding. There is no further appeal. Their decision can only be challenged if the panel did not follow the proper process, got the law wrong or came to a decision which was so unreasonable that no panel in their right minds would have come to the same decision. Simply disagreeing with the decision is not sufficient.

If you think the appeal panel ‘got it wrong', you have three choices. You can ‘put up with' the result, or you can refer the case to the Local Government Ombudsman to investigate, or you can bring a claim for judicial review. If you are thinking of pursuing the complaint, you must do so quickly, as there are legal time limits and any delay may make it even harder to obtain a place at your preferred school.

Written by Ian Jones, barrister at New Walk Chambers, specialising in School Appeals.

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My second week at Chambers

28 Feb 2008, 17:20 by John Snell

Labels: barristers, blog, english, germany, intern, law, legal-profession, nottingham, student, university

  My second week began with a contract case in the Leicester County Court. I had read through the papers before and expected a controversial argument on breach and damage.

However, things developed in a way which is quite typical for the English legal system:  The barristers started to negotiate the amount of damages on the court floors and eventually the case was settled "last minute", i.e. just before the parties were supposed to enter the courtroom. So, instead of determining which of the party had actually been in breach of the contract, the judge then only had to approve of the agreement to which the parties had come.

Interestingly enough the barrister of the other party originally came from Germany. I found it remarkable that it is actually possible to practice law successfully as a foreigner.

Yesterday I got to observe a case in the Nottingham County Court dealing with a car accident. The parties gave two completely different versions of the event. The claimant's witness who had been his passenger when the accident happened described it in the same way as the former. The defendant's witness surprisingly did not confirm the defendant's statement but introduced a third version of the accident. Therefore, the judge finally decided in favour of the claimant.

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Ein Jury-Trial

22 Feb 2008, 14:44 by John Snell

Labels: barristers, blog, germany, intern, law, legal-profession, student, university

Gestern morgen war ich wieder beim County Court - diesmal ging es um einen Personenschaden. Ein kleiner Junge war bei einem Autounfall verletzt worden und seine Eltern verlangten nun Schadensersatz und Schmerzensgeld. Die solicitors beider Parteien hatten sich zwar schon vorab auf eine Summe geeinigt, allerdings musste diese nun noch von einem Richter abgesegnet werden, weil im Namen eines Kindes geklagt wurde. In England darf der Klaeger in solchen Faellen nicht selbst ueber die Hoehe seiner Forderung entscheiden. Auch wird das Geld nicht sofort ausgezahlt, sondern angelegt und kann nur in Ausnahmefaellen (beispielsweise zu Ausbildungszwecken) vor dem 18. Geburtstag des Kindes  ganz oder teilweise ausgezahlt werden.

Danach fragte mich der Barrister, den ich zum Gericht begleitet hatte, ob ich mir noch eine Strafsache im benachbarten Crown Court anhoeren wollte.  Er half mir dann, eine interessante Verhandlung zu finden. Es ging um einen Fall von Einbruchdiebstahl. Als ich den Gerichtssaal betrat, wurde gerade die Jury eingeschworen.

Fuer mich als Deutsche war das natuerlich sehr spektakulaer - Jury Trials kennt man ja sonst nur aus amerikanischen Filmen. Die Anhoerung der Zeugen erwies sich dann allerdings als etwas langatmig. Der erste Zeuge (ein Taxifahrer, der fuer das Unternehmen arbeitete, auf dessen Gelaende der Einbruchsdiebstahl begangen worden war) litt unter einer Lernbehinderung, weshalb er Schwierigkeiten hatte, die Fragen des Staatsanwalts, der Verteidigerin und des Richters zu verstehen. Der zweite Zeuge war zwar eloquenter, allerdings verlief auch seine Befragung schleppend, da er die Richtigkeit der Darstellung des Betriebsgelaendes auf einer Karte, die den Juroren zuvor ausgehaendigt worden war, bezweifelte. Dies fuehrte zu langen Diskussionen mit dem Richter und der Verteidigerin. Am Ende seiner Befragung waren seit Beginn des Termins bereits mehr als zwei Stunden vergangen, und ich hatte nicht den Eindruck, als waeren wir der Wahrheit naeher gekommen. Da noch weitere Zeugen angehoert werden sollten, beschloss ich die Verhandlung zu verlassen.

Alles in allem hat konnte ich mir jedoch einen guten Eindruck vom Ablauf eines Strafprozesses in England verschaffen, der sich (nicht nur wegen des Jury Systems) deutlich von dem in Deutschland unterscheidet.  Waehrend bei uns trotz bestimmter Formen und Rituale die Verhandlung ja eher in Dialogform stattfindet, hatte ich hier phasenweise den Eindruck, mich im Theater zu befinden. (nicht nur wegen der Perruecken und der etwas gewoehnungsbeduerftigen Farben der Robe des Richters J ) Man merkte deutlich, dass sich die Form des Englischen Strafprozesses noch sehr stark an die Tradition vergangener Jahrhunderte anlehnt.

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German Intern - A Jury Trial

22 Feb 2008, 12:04 by John Snell

Labels: barristers, english, germany, intern, law, legal-profession, student, university

Yesterday morning I went to the County Court again - this time to hear a Personal Injury case.  I learned that in England the judge has to approve of the settlement of the solicitors concerning the amount of damages when the claim is filed on behalf of a child.

After that the barrister I had accompanied to court asked me if I would like to see a criminal case in the Crown Court. Then he helped me finding an interesting trial where the defendant was being accused of burglary. When I entered the court room, the jury was just about to be sworn in. This was of course very exciting for me because so far I had known jury trials only from American films and TV series.

After the prosecutor's pleading the first witness was called. He was a taxi-driver who worked for the company on whose premises the burglary had been committed. The questioning turned out to be very difficult as the man had a learning disability and therefore did not understand all of the questions he was asked by the prosecutor, the defence counsel and the judge.

Although the second witness was more eloquent his questioning proved to be equally difficult since he had doubts concerning the accuracy of the map of the premises which had been delivered to the jury. This led to long discussions and in the end, I did not have the impression that his statement had helped very much to find out the truth.

At this stage, the trial had already been going on for more than two hours and there were still more witnesses to be heard, so I decided to leave as my concentration was more and more in decline. Nevertheless the trial gave me a very good impression of the English criminal procedure which is much more traditional than the one in Germany.

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Mein zweiter Tag

20 Feb 2008, 15:37 by John Snell

Labels: barristers, blog, english, germany, intern, law, legal-profession, student, university

Gestern morgen habe ich eine der barristers zum Magistrates' Court (Strafgericht fuer Vergehen mit geringem Strafmass) begleitet, um eine "echte Gerichtsverhandlung" zu sehen. Allerdings kam diese nicht richtig in Gang, weil der Verteidiger wenig zugunsten seines Mandanten vorzubringen hatte. Die Anwaeltin des Klaegers musste nicht einmal ihre Zeugen praesentieren. Die fuer die Verteidigung unguenstige Lage verschaerfte sich noch, als ein Abgesandter des Probation Office hinzugezogen wurde und verkuendete, dass der defendant bereits mehrfach vorbestraft war, was dieser bis dahin verschwiegen hatte.

Trotzdem zog sich die Verhandlung aufgrund diverser Unterbrechungen ueber mehrere Stunden. Ich fand sie dennoch sehr interessant, da ich als Deutsche mit der Institution des Magistrates' Court mit drei Laienrichtern und einem Legal Advisor bisher nicht vertraut war. Ausserdem war es neu fuer mich, dass die Anklage dort nicht zwingend von einem Staatsanwalt uebernommen wird, sondern an seiner Stelle (wie in diesem Fall) auch ein private prosecutor auftreten kann.

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