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Registration appeals

This guidance is for people who wish to appeal a registration decision made by Social Work England.

Registration appeals

Last updated: 12 March 2021


About this guidance

This guidance is for people who wish to appeal a registration decision made by Social Work England.

Decisions you can appeal

You can appeal a decision about your registration if you are:

  • refused entry to the register (except where this is because you did not pay the relevant fee within the required timeframe, or where you did not apply in accordance with our procedures)
  • asked to undertake an English language assessment
  • removed from the register for failing to meet a condition that was attached to your registration
  • removed from the register for failing to meet continuing professional development requirements
  • not recognised as an 'exempt person' (people with certain EU rights that entitle them to apply for registration under the principle of free movement of peoples)
  • removed from the register because you failed to renew your registration (except where this is because you did not pay the relevant fee within the required timeframe, or where you did not apply in accordance with our procedures)
  • removed from the register because we believe your registration has been or is fraudulent, or has been incorrectly accepted
  • refused restoration of your registration (except where this is because you did not pay the relevant fee within the required timeframe, or where you did not apply in accordance with our procedures)
  • refused restoration of any annotations or
  • if our decision was not made within the time limits specified in our rules.

In addition, if you’re an exempt person, you’re also entitled to make an appeal directly to the county court about a decision that requires you to undertake a period of adaptation or aptitude test.

How to make an appeal

All appeals must be made in writing. If you want to appeal a decision made by Social Work England, you can do this by post or email.

Notice of appeals must be submitted within 28 days of a decision

You must submit your notice of appeal within 28 days of the date that you were informed of the decision which you want to appeal. Your notice of appeal is not regarded as ‘submitted’ until it is received by Social Work England.

Information to include in your appeal

Your notice of appeal should include:

  • a clear statement that you are making an appeal. For example, ‘I wish to appeal against the decision to…’
  • a statement of your grounds for making an appeal (see ‘grounds of appeal’ section below)
  • any documents you intend to rely on for the purpose of your appeal
  • whether you want an oral hearing (we call this a ‘hearing’) or a consideration of your appeal based solely on the information and supporting documents you provide (we call this a ‘meeting’) (see ‘types of appeal’ section below)
  • whether you want someone else to represent you at your hearing. If you do, please tell us if we should contact them directly (see ‘choosing your representative’ section below)

If you are not submitting your notice of appeal using an email address you have previously provided to Social Work England, you should also include:

  • your full name and address
  • your signature

Grounds of appeal

When you submit a notice of appeal, you need to explain to the appeal panel why you believe the original decision is:

This information is your ‘grounds of appeal’.

Your grounds of appeal do not need to be lengthy or written in legal language, but statements like ‘the decision is wrong’ or ‘my application should have been accepted’ are not enough without an explanation of why that is the case.

Information to support your appeal

If you have information or evidence that supports your appeal, you should send it to Social Work England with your notice of appeal. This includes documents such as identity documents, qualifications, language tests or references.

How to submit information or evidence

If you’re not able to provide all the evidence you want to rely on when you submit your notice of appeal, you will have an opportunity to provide more information before the hearing of your appeal.

You should provide any further documentation at least 7 calendar days before your appeal. It is important to note that adjudicators may decide that any further information/evidence must be provided within a different time period before the hearing.

Verifying your information or evidence

We will normally verify the authenticity and accuracy of certain documents you provide to support your appeal. For example, by contacting people who are providing references for you to confirm their identities and the content of the references.

Different people in the appeals process

When you make an appeal, you will deal with different people who have different roles.

Registrations team

The registration team made the decision about your registration on behalf of Social Work England. They will be the first people you talk to about your appeal.

The registration team will also provide instructions to our legal representatives when they’re conducting the appeal on behalf of Social Work England.

You can contact the registrations team via email on [email protected]

Adjudications team

The adjudications team is responsible for the planning, logistics and running of the appeal. They will tell you about practical matters leading up to the appeal, including the date and time of the hearing or meeting.

A member of the adjudications team will attend the hearing or meeting. They will also formally let you know the outcome of the appeal.

If you have questions about the scheduling and logistics of your appeal, you can contact the adjudications team via email on [email protected]

Legal representatives

Our legal representatives will contact you before your hearing or meeting to provide you with a bundle of documents.

During a hearing or meeting, lawyers will present our case for making the registration decision on our behalf. For hearings, a lawyer will attend in person. For meetings, the lawyer will provide written submissions.

Once our legal representatives have contacted you, they become your main point of contact for any questions about the registration appeals process.

If our legal representatives are unable to deal with your query, they will ask you to contact the registration or adjudications team.

It’s important to note that none of the people mentioned above can give you legal advice about your appeal. They will only be able to answer practical questions about the process.

Types of appeal

All appeals will be heard by a panel of at least 2 adjudicators and a legal assessor. Social Work England will be represented by our legal representatives.

When you submit a notice of appeal, we will ask whether you want an oral hearing (we call this a ‘hearing’) or for us to consider your appeal on the basis of the information you have submitted (we call this a ‘meeting’).

There are some important differences between a hearing and a meeting.

Hearings

Appeal hearings are generally held in public (subject to some exceptions – more information in the ‘Attending your hearing’ section).

You have the right to attend a hearing. You also have the right to be represented at a hearing. This means that you can present your case directly to the panel. You can also ask witnesses to give evidence.

Social Work England’s lawyers will also present their case directly to the panel at a hearing and can ask witnesses to give evidence.

You can read more about what happens at appeal hearings later in this guidance.

The scheduling of a hearing sometimes takes longer because we need to include panellists, witnesses and legal representatives.

Meetings

Meetings are held in private.

This means that you’re not able to attend the meeting. It will also be conducted without a lawyer (representing Social Work England) being present.

All evidence and information is submitted to the panel in paper form.

Witnesses

If you plan to ask witnesses to give evidence at your appeal hearing, you should tell the adjudications team as soon as possible. Ideally, you should also provide a witness statement for each of these witnesses.

A witness statement should include the evidence which the witness plans to give at the hearing. The statement also needs to include a declaration that the witness believes that the facts in the statement are true. For example, they may want to write: ‘I believe that the facts in this witness statement are true.’

When you submit your notice of appeal, you do not need to know whether you want to call witnesses at your hearing.

But if you decide that you want witnesses to give evidence to support your case, you must tell the panel at least 7 days before your appeal hearing.

Choosing a representative

You have the right to be represented during the appeals process and at your hearing.

You can be represented by a legal representative, or a representative from your professional organisation, if they're not:

  • a member, employee or partner of Social Work England and
  • going to be called as a witness in the hearing.

If the appeal panel agrees, you can also choose to be represented by a family member or another suitable person (Rule 16, removal from the register and registration appeals rules).

Please let us know as soon as possible if you’re going to be represented, and whether you want us to send future correspondence to your representative (rather than you).

We will not be able to share any information with your representative until you give us confirmation of representation.

You can include this confirmation in the appeal form or complete the ‘notification of representation form’. You can find the form at the end of this guidance.

If you decide not to have a representative, you may be able to bring someone to the hearing for moral support, such as a family member or a friend.

After you have submitted an appeal

How we decide if your appeal is accepted

First, your notice of appeal will be considered by a member of the registration team. They will make sure that:

  1. You have submitted your notice of appeal in time (within 28 days of being informed of the decision that you want to appeal)
  2. The decision can be appealed

If your notice of appeal is ‘out of time’ then it can be rejected. If your notice of appeal is rejected, you can contact the registration and advice team to discuss your options.

If you do not explain your grounds of appeal in enough detail, you will be asked to provide more information. Also, if you do not tell us whether you want a hearing or meeting, you will be asked to provide this information.

If your appeal is accepted

If the registrations team is satisfied with your notice of appeal, they will write to you to confirm that it has been received.

The registration team will then tell our legal representatives that an appeal has been received, and send them all the relevant appeal documents including:

  • your notice of appeal
  • any supporting documentation you have provided
  • your registration application or information relating to your registration and
  • the registration decision.

Our legal representatives will then prepare the case for the registration appeal. Once they’re ready for the appeal to be listed, they will contact both you and the adjudications team.

Scheduling your hearing or meeting

The adjudications team will then appoint adjudicators to sit on the appeals panel.

If you have asked to have a hearing, the adjudications team will work with you, and our legal representatives, to find a suitable date for the hearing. We will confirm the date of your appeal in a ‘notice of hearing’ which will be sent as a letter or an email.

If you have told us that you do not want to have a hearing, or that you do not have a preference, the adjudicators may still decide that a hearing is required. If the adjudicators decide that a hearing is required, we will tell you.

We will also tell you if the adjudicators decide that a hearing is not required, and that a meeting is more suitable. You will then have 28 days (since you were told about the adjudicators’ decision) to request a hearing if you want to.

Directions by the adjudicators

The adjudications team may decide that they need to have a case management meeting before the appeal.

Case management meetings ensure that adjudicators have all the relevant information and that the appeal runs smoothly.

Our legal representatives and/or the adjudications team will tell you if a case management meeting has been scheduled. They will also provide you with copies of the documents which the adjudicators will consider at the meeting.
We will also tell you the outcome of the case management meeting, and whether the adjudicators have made any directions.

Examples of directions

Imposing timeframes for certain documents to be provided (for example, the adjudicators may decide that you must submit additional documentation by a certain date)

Identifying relevant witnesses to attend or documents to be provided, such as evidence of qualifications or any relevant training material

Requiring Social Work England, or yourself, to provide a written statement to support your case. This may happen in cases where you haven’t provided enough detail in your initial grounds of appeal.

Make sure you read and follow any directions made by the adjudicators.
If a direction is not complied with (by you or Social Work England), then the adjudicators may draw an adverse inference.

This means that the adjudicators may presume that the reason you’ve not complied with the direction is a strategic decision, and that if you had complied, the case would have gone against you.

If you fail to comply with a direction that relates to evidence, adjudicators may refuse to admit that evidence.

Setting a date for your appeal

The adjudications team will then schedule your hearing or meeting.

An appeal must be heard within 60 working days of us receiving your notice of appeal. This means that adjudicators will try to set your date of appeal as soon as possible.

There may be unavoidable delays in setting the date, such as finding available adjudicators and the space to hear an appeal.

If your appeal is going to be considered at a hearing, we will give you at least 28 calendar days’ notice of when and where the hearing will take place.

If your appeal is going to be considered as a meeting, there is no minimum notice period required. But we will aim to provide you with several days’ notice.

After the date of your appeal has been set

Postponements and adjournments

Once a hearing date has been set, it can only be postponed in exceptional circumstances like illness or bereavement. To request a postponement, you need to provide evidence of why the hearing should be postponed.

Requests for postponements and adjournments will be considered by either a hearing case manager or the adjudicators. If the hearing is postponed, we tell you the new hearing date at least 14 calendar days’ in advance.

Appeal documents

Ahead of your appeal, our legal representatives will prepare a bundle of documents.

This bundle will include documents that:

  • you have provided to support your appeal
  • we will rely on to make our case for the registration decision we made

The bundle of documents will be sent to both you and the adjudicators.

It is up to you which documents you want to rely on to support your appeal.

We ask that you provide as much information as possible when you submit your notice of appeal. But if you want to provide more information, please send it to us as soon as possible, so it can be included in the bundle prepared by our legal representatives.

If you want to provide additional documentation (outside what is included in the bundle provided by our legal representatives) you will need to provide this in line with any directions given by the adjudicators and within at least 7 calendar days of the date of the appeal.

You must send any further documentation to both our legal representatives and the adjudications team via email to: [email protected]

The appeal

The appeal panel

Your appeal will be considered by a panel of adjudicators including:

  • A chair. This will be a lay person (someone who is not registered with Social Work England)
  • At least one adjudicator, who may be a lay person (a lay adjudicator) or a registered social worker (a social work adjudicator)

The adjudicators will be assisted by a legal advisor, who is a solicitor or barrister with at least 10 years’ experience. The legal advisor is not involved in the appeal decision and only provides the adjudicators with legal advice.

A member of the adjudications team will also attend the appeal. They will not be involved in the decision making and are only responsible for supporting the running and logistics of the hearing or meeting.

If the appeal is heard as a hearing, a lawyer will also attend on behalf of Social Work England.

The appeal panel is independent. This means that panel members will not have been involved in any part of the decision that is being appealed.

The panel will reach their decision based solely on evidence. An appeal is a reconsideration of the evidence, not a review of the decision made by Social Work England.

Location of the hearing or meeting

If your appeal is considered at a hearing, you will be asked to attend the hearing at our offices in Sheffield or remotely via video conference.
In exceptional circumstances, we may be able to hold a hearing somewhere else.

If you need any reasonable adjustments made to enable you to attend the appeal, please let us know at the earliest possible opportunity.

Meetings will usually be held by telephone or video conference. You are not able to attend an appeal meeting.

Attending your hearing

If your appeal is considered at a hearing, the panel will usually want to speak to you to help them make a decision.

If you do not attend your hearing, the panel may continue without you. This means that you will not have the opportunity to answer any questions.
When you attend your hearing, you will be asked whether you want to give evidence or whether you just want to speak to the panel (we call this making ‘submissions’).

If you give evidence, you will be asked if you wish to take an oath or make an affirmation that your evidence is true. The oath is a religious commitment whereas an affirmation is non-religious.

If you give evidence, our lawyers will be able to challenge your evidence by asking questions by cross-examination. You will not be able to be cross-examined if you only make submissions. You can make written submissions in advance of a hearing or oral submissions during the course of a hearing.

Most hearings are open to the public. But if an appeal relates to your physical or mental health, the hearing will be held in private.

Hearings may also be held in private where it’s in the public interest to do so, or for reasons relating to the wellbeing of participants.

Representation

As mentioned above in the section ‘Choosing a representative’, you can be represented at a hearing by a:

  • solicitor or counsel
  • representative from a professional organisation of which you are a member; or
  • another person (such as a family member) if the adjudicators agree.

It is important that your representative is not a witness at the hearing.

What happens at an appeal hearing

The adjudicators are responsible for how hearings are conducted, but they must do it in a way that they think is fair.

Most appeal hearings will follow this procedure:

  1. The panel chair of the adjudicators will start the hearing. They will introduce the adjudicators and ask everyone else to introduce themselves.
  2. The adjudicators will then deal with any preliminary issues, service and any adjournment requests. This may include things such as deciding whether to proceed in the absence of an appellant or has the appellant been given the required amount of notice with regards to the appeal hearing.
  3. If you are not present at the hearing, the adjudicators may continue in your absence if they are satisfied that you have received, or all reasonable efforts have been made to make sure you received, the ‘notice of hearing’ (Rule 18, removal from the register and registration appeals rules)
  4. You, or a representative acting on your behalf, will then be asked to present your case and call any witnesses.
  5. If you are not represented, the adjudicators may ask the lawyer representing Social Work England to introduce the background to the appeal.
  6. The adjudicators will then have the opportunity to ask you, and any witnesses who are there on your behalf, any questions they might have.
  7. Social Work England will then have the opportunity to ask you, and any witnesses who are there on your behalf, any questions.
  8. Social Work England will then present its case, and have the opportunity to call its own witnesses. Both you and the adjudicators will then have the opportunity to ask any questions of Social Work England’s witnesses.
  9. Both you and Social Work England will then have the opportunity to make any closing arguments about the appeal.
  10. The adjudicators will then leave and make their decision.

The length of appeal hearings vary, but they will typically take a couple of hours. Normally, the appeal panel will give its decision on the same day.

What happens at a meeting

If the appeal is considered at a meeting, we will set a date for the adjudicators to make their decision. At the meeting, only the adjudicators, a legal advisor and a member of the hearings team will be present.

The adjudicators will not hear any oral evidence or oral submissions from you or Social Work England. They will make their decisions solely on the documentation before them.

These meetings will most likely take place either by telephone or video conference and are heard in private.

Normally, the appeal panel will give its decision on the same day.

Appeal outcomes

When you appeal a registration decision, the panel may decide to:

  • dismiss the appeal, leaving the original decision standing
  • quash (reject as invalid) the decision. This means that we will need to make the decision again
  • change the decision or
  • send the decision back to the original decision makers with instructions.

Please note, not all of these outcomes will be appropriate for all appeals.

When we will tell you the outcome

The adjudications team will tell you the outcome of your appeal, and the reasons for it, no more than 7 calendar days after the panel has decided. The adjudications team will also explain next steps and tell you if you need to take any further actions.

We may also tell your employer or someone else (such as another regulatory body where you’re dual registered) if we think it’s in the public interest to do so.

If the panel decides in your favour, we will not publish the outcome of your appeal on our website (unless you ask us to).

In all other circumstances, the outcome of your appeal, and the reasons for it, will be published on our website.

Appealing to the county court

If the decision you’re appealing is not quashed (rejected as invalid), you have the right to make an appeal to the county court.

You should contact the County Court for information about how and when to file an application to appeal.

Please note, it is likely that the appeal will need to be filed within 21 days of the adjudicators decision.

More information

For more information about making an appeal, please call us on 0808 196 2274 or email us on [email protected].

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