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Guidance on registration appeals

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

Registration appeals guidance

Last updated: 25 November 2019


About this guidance

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


Which decisions can I appeal?

You’re entitled to make an appeal if a decision about your registration has been made that:

  • refuses you entry to the register (except where this is on the basis that you did not pay the relevant fee within the required timeframe, or where you did not apply in accordance with our procedures)
  • asks you to undertake an English language assessment
  • removes you from the register for failing to meet a condition that was attached to your registration
  • removes you from the register for failing to meet continuing professional development requirements
  • refuses to recognise you as an 'exempt person' (people with certain EU rights that entitle them to apply for registration under the principle of free movement of peoples)
  • removes you from the register because you failed to renew your registration (except where this is on the basis that you did not pay the relevant fee within the required timeframe, or where you did not apply in accordance with our procedures)
  • removes you from the register because we believe your registration has been/is fraudulent or has been incorrectly accepted
  • refuses to restore your registration (except where this is on the basis that you did not pay the relevant fee within the required timeframe, or where you did not apply in accordance with our procedures)
  • refuses to register you as a ‘visiting European professional’ (someone whose registration as a social worker elsewhere in the EU permits them to provide social work services on a temporary and occasional basis in the UK)
  • refuses to restore any annotation or
  • is not made within the time limits specified within our rules

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.


Making an appeal

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

You must make your appeal within 28 days of the date that you were informed of the decision you want to appeal. Your appeal is not regarded as made until it is received by Social Work England. Your 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’d like an oral hearing or a consideration of your appeal based solely on the information and supporting documents you provide
  • whether you’d like someone else to represent you at your hearing and, if so, whether we should contact them directly

If you are not submitting your appeal using an email address you have provided to us, you should also include your:

  • full name and address
  • signature

We’ll verify the authenticity and accuracy of any documents that are submitted as part of your appeal.


Types of appeal

Appeals can be decided using only the information and supporting documents you provide, but we’ll arrange an oral hearing if:

  • you ask for an oral hearing or
  • the appeal panel decides an oral hearing is more appropriate in the circumstances

If your appeal is considered at an oral hearing, you’ll be asked to attend the hearing at our offices in Sheffield. In exceptional circumstances, we may be able to hold a hearing elsewhere.

Oral hearings are open to the public in most circumstances, however, your hearing will be held in private if it concerns your physical or mental health. Hearings may also be held in private for reasons relating to the welfare of participants, or where it is in the public interest to do so.

If you initially request an oral hearing, you can change your mind and ask for the panel to consider your appeal based on the documents alone. You should do this at least seven days before the date of your hearing. However, if the panel considers that an oral hearing is more appropriate in the circumstances, your appeal will go ahead.


Grounds of appeal

When you make an appeal, it’s up to you to explain to the appeal panel why you believe the original decision is incorrect and/or does not comply with Social Work England’s registration rules and removal from the register and registration appeals rules. This information forms 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’ve been accepted’ are not enough without an explanation of why that is the case.

If you have any information or evidence that supports your appeal, you should send it to us with your appeal.


Choosing a representative

You may be represented by your legal representative or a representative from your professional organisation as long as:

  • they are not a member, employee or partner of Social Work England and
  • they are not going to be called as a witness in the hearing

Alternatively, if the appeal panel agrees, you can be represented by a family member or other suitable person. You should inform us if you choose to appoint a representative. You should also tell us whether or not we should send all future communications to your representative rather than you.

If your appeal is considered at an oral hearing, in most cases the appeal panel will want the opportunity to speak directly with you, even if you have a representative (this is called giving evidence). This is so they can ask you questions and listen to your answers.

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


After an appeal has been submitted

The appeal panel must come to a decision on your appeal within 60 working days of receiving it. If your appeal is going to be considered based on your documents alone (without an oral hearing), we’ll normally give you another opportunity to submit written statements to the panel. You may submit these up to seven days before your appeal is considered.

If your appeal is going to be considered at an oral hearing, we’ll give you at least 28 days’ notice of when and where the hearing will take place. Once a hearing date has been set, it can only be postponed in exceptional circumstances like illness or bereavement.

You may wish to call witnesses in support of your appeal. If you do, you must tell the panel at least seven days before the date of your appeal.


Attending an oral hearing

If your appeal is going to be considered at an oral hearing, the panel will usually want to speak with you to help them make a decision. If you do not attend your hearing, the panel may continue in your absence and you will not have the opportunity to answer any questions the panel may have.


The appeal panel

The panel that considers your appeal will be made up of the following:

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

There will always be a legally qualified person involved in your hearing. Where one of the adjudicators on the appeal panel is not legally qualified, a solicitor or barrister with at least 10 years’ experience will be present to act as a legal adviser.

The appeal panel acts independently. This means that panel members will not have played any previous part in the decision that is being appealed. The panel will reach their decision based solely on the evidence put before them.


Appeal outcomes

The panel may reach a decision about an appeal in one of three ways, although not all of them will be appropriate for every appeal. The appeal panel may decide to:

  • dismiss an appeal, leaving the original decision standing
  • quash (reject as invalid) the decision you are appealing against, meaning we will need to make the decision again
  • change the decision you’re appealing to an alternative decision or
  • send the decision back to the original decision makers, with further instructions from the panel

We’ll let you know the panel’s decision, and the reasons for it, within 7 days of the date it’s made. We’ll also advise you of any next steps or further actions that you need to take. If we think it’s appropriate, we may also inform your employer or someone else, if we consider it in the public interest to do so.

If the panel decides in your favour, we will not publish the outcome of your appeal 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.

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


Further 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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