Cathrine Grubb represented the local authority in the first hearing of the Special Educational Needs Tribunal for Wales to take place online.
The logistics of narrowing the issues in the working document was the greatest difference, between the usual hearings in person, given that usually all parties and experts would be in the same building. This aspect required considerably more legwork from the representatives on both sides, with discussions starting some days earlier. The hard work of the legal representatives certainly paid off. By the time the tribunal was due to commence there were only two significant matters remaining in dispute.
The tribunal has its own hearing platform, with logistics managed by the clerks to the tribunal. A trial run was held with the separate parties beforehand in order to ensure everyone was familiar and comfortable using the system. Due to technological difficulties on the second day, the hearing proceeded via skype for business, which was swiftly set up by the tribunal clerks.
A more formal approach was adopted by the Chair than one would normally expect of a SEN tribunal hearing in order to ensure that everyone knew when to speak and worked well.