If you have a professional representative, you don’t have to worry about this bit: this is their job. Lucky you!
If not, there’s still no need to worry, but you do need to understand why preparation is important.
You have the chance to provide the tribunal service with documents in support of your appeal before the day of the hearing, and I recommend that you take advantage of this opportunity.
Tribunals are made up of human beings. Surprising, but true. Being human, they want things to be clear, and they want things to be as easy as possible. In particular, they want to you be clear about what you want, and why you disagree with the decision maker. Being human, they also like to be prepared, so it’s a good idea to let you have anything before the day of the hearing (Letters from the tribunal service will ask you to provide extra information at least a week before the hearing: in reality they are more flexible than that, and will even accept new documents on the day, but it’s best to avoid this if you can: the longer and more complex the new documents are the more likely the tribunal is to be unhappy about them).
I recommend that in most cases you provide the following documents:
- A submission - this is a document you write, telling them what you want and why you disagree with the decision maker;
- Additional evidence - Any other documents you have that you think might support your case.
I’ll deal with the evidence first, then look at the submission.
But before we do either, I strongly recommend that you look through the appeal bundle and mark things you’re not happy with.
Additional EvidenceRemember that you are trying to convince the tribunal that you meet the rules for Employment and Support Allowance. Any evidence that doesn’t help with this is useless, and, sometimes, annoy the tribunal.
If you had some good reason for failing to keep to your jobseeker’s agreement and you have evidence of this, include it. Here are two possible examples:
- If you were suddenly taken ill, a letter from your GP confirming it.
- If the Jobcentre Plus says you didn’t attend a job interview, any evidence suggesting that you did (for example, bus tickets).
The SubmissionYour submission has a number of jobs to do:
- The main one is to show the tribunal why they should allow your appeal (i.e. why you should win)
- But it also helps you get your thoughts in order before the hearing
- And it saves you from having to remember everything you want to say on the day.
My general advice about how to write your submission is as follows:
- Match your submission to how expert you are, and how good you are at writing. This is really important. If you really struggle with writing, try and find someone you trust who can help.
- Don’t make it too long: it shouldn’t really be more than a couple of pages long, unless it’s a very unusual case.
- Focus on two things: why you think you should win, and why you think the Jobcentre Plus is wrong
When you’ve finished your submission...
- If you can, get someone you trust to check it through for mistakes.
- Send it, with any other evidence you’ve found, to the Tribunal Service at the address they have given in letters to you: keep a copy!
The Tribunal Service like to get extra documents at least a week before the hearing, because they have to send it out to the tribunal panel members and to the Jobcentre Plus. If you don’t manage to do this, they may accept it on the day of the hearing, although the longer the pile of papers you provide the more annoyed the tribunal is likely to be.
‘Tell me about actually going to the hearing’
‘How do I maximise my chances of success?’
‘What happens at the end of the hearing?’