Absence of an appellant

What happens if an Appellant does not make it to the Tribunal?

A tribunal can continue with a hearing as long as rule 31 is fulfilled. Namely:

1)    He has been notified of hearing or reasonable steps have been taken to notify him of the same
2)    It is in the interest of justice to proceed with the hearing.
So if an appellant fails to attend the hearing without an explanation it will be usually alright to proceed in his absence.

Normal procedure is that if the file is available at the venue it should be checked or enquiry made of the clerk to see whether the appellant has given an explanation of his absence. If there is a telephone number on the file the clerk will normally try and contact the appellant to see why absence. If a file is not precedent the clerk can check the electronic file or call the enquiry centre to ensure the appellant has not sent in any letter or telephone call asking for a postponement.

If there has been any explanation for absence or a postponement has been requested the tribunal must consider it before deciding how to proceed. If the appellant has indicated that he wants the hearing to proceed in his absence that there will be no issue, but if he is requesting an adjournment or postponement this must be considered.

All of the above have to be noted on the record of proceedings.
In practice

If a message has been received it should be noted on the record of proceedings as well as the tribunal response. If nothing has been received it is ok to wait 10-15 minutes and add this to the record stating, the same. However the distance the appellant is traveling is also kept in mind.

This record is then relied upon by a District Judge if a set-aside application is made.

Rule 13(5) states while the last address notified to the Tribunal Service is relevant even if information has been received that he has since moved it is permissible to continue with the hearing, however if it is clear that the appellant did not receive notice of the hearing it is sensible to then adjourn and redirect the service to the new address.

Set Aside

The appellant always has the right to apply to set-aside the decision when he is not present and this is dealt by the District Judge.

The basis of the set aside would not non-attendance / lateness HOWEVER please note that this may not always work if the tribunal log times as above and felt there was sufficient evidence already present.

Appellant in Prison

If an appellant is in prison at the time of a hearing and they have requested an oral hearing the following will apply:
1)    The clerk will check if the appellant received notice of the hearing, if not it must be adjourned.
2)    If notice has been received, sentence time would be looked at.

If the sentence is short or will come to an end in the near future then it adjourning until release should be considered.

If however the sentence is lengthy and an Enquiry form has been received requesting an oral hearing then clerk will check if a video link is possible. If this cannot be arranged the clerk can contact the Governor of the prison to see if the appellant can be released for the day (with or without an escort). If permission is not granted the clerk will have to consult a District Judge for further advice.