This guidance is for people who wish to appeal a registration decision made by Social Work England.
Last updated: 29 July 2022
- About this guidance
- Decisions you can appeal
- How to make an appeal
- Ground of appeal
- Information to support your appeal
- Different people in the appeals process
- Types of appeal
- Choosing a representative
- After you have submitted an appeal
- After the date of your appeal has been set
- The appeal
- Appeal outcomes
- More information
About this guidance
This guidance is for people who want 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:
- Incorrect and/or
- does not comply with Social Work England’s registration rules and removal from the register and registration appeals rules
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 or meeting of your appeal.
You should provide any further documentation at least 7 calendar days before your appeal hearing or meeting. It is important to note that adjudicators may decide that any further information or 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.
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 registration team via email on [email protected]
The hearings 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 hearings 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 hearings team via email on [email protected]
Our legal representatives will contact you before your hearing or meeting to provide you with a bundle of documents.
During a hearing or meeting, an advocate will present our case for making the registration decision on our behalf. For hearings, an advocate will attend. For meetings, the advocate will provide written submissions.
Once our advocate has contacted you, they become your main point of contact for any questions about the registration appeals process.
If our advocate is unable to deal with your query, they will ask you to contact the registration or hearings 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 adviser.
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.
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. This will likely be remotely via a video conferencing platform but it can be in-person. 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.
Our advocate 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 the adjudicators, witnesses and our advocate.
Meetings are held in private.
This means that you’re not able to attend the meeting. It will also be conducted without our advocate being present.
All evidence and information is submitted to the panel by email.
If you plan to ask witnesses to give evidence at your appeal hearing, you must tell the hearings 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 by emailing [email protected]. 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 hearings 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, a representative from your professional organisation, provided 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 adjudicators agree, 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:
- You have submitted your notice of appeal in time (within 28 days of being informed of the decision that you want to appeal)
- The decision can be appealed
If your notice of appeal is ‘out of time’ then it will 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 registration 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 advocate 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. At the same time, our hearings team will contact you to arrange a hearing or meeting.
Scheduling your hearing or meeting
The hearings team will then appoint adjudicators to sit on the appeals panel.
If you have asked to have a hearing, the hearings team will work with you, and our advocate, 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 21 days (since you were told about the adjudicators’ decision) to request a hearing if you want to.
Directions by the adjudicators
The hearings team will list an adjudicator administrative meeting before the appeal.
The adjudicator administrative meeting ensures that the adjudicators have made decisions about who they need to hear from and what information they may need to ensure the appeal hearing or meeting runs smoothly.
You and Social Work England’s advocate will not attend this meeting but we will tell you the outcome of it, 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 hearings 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. If you apply for or agree to a postponement of the appeal determination, the 60 working day deadline will fall away.
There may be unavoidable delays in setting the date, such as finding available adjudicators.
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.
Ahead of your appeal, our advocate 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 advocate.
If you want to provide additional documentation (outside what is included in the bundle provided by our advocate) 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 advocate and the hearings team via email to [email protected]
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)
- A social work adjudicator, who is a registered social worker (a social work adjudicator)
The adjudicators will be assisted by a legal adviser. The legal adviser is not involved in the appeal decision and provides the adjudicators with legal advice, as well as assisting the adjudicators to draft the appeal decision document.
A member of the hearings 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 (our advocate).
The appeal panel is independent. This means that adjudicators will not have been involved in any part of the decision that is being appealed.
The adjudicators 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, if will be schedule for a remote hearing via video conference. It can be held in another format if there are reasons why a remote hearing would not be suitable. You will be asked to raise any concerns you have about the hearing format when you submit your appeal.
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 be held by video conference. You and Social Work England’s advocate are not able to attend an appeal meeting but can provide written submissions for the adjudicators to consider.
Attending your hearing
If your appeal is considered at a hearing, the adjudicators will usually want to speak to you to help them make a decision.
If you do not attend your hearing, the adjudicators 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 adjudicators (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 wish to give an oath and the hearing is taking place remotely, you will need your preferred religious text with you.
If you give evidence, our advocate 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.
As mentioned above in the section ‘Choosing a representative’, you can be represented at a hearing by a:
- solicitor or barrister registered in the UK, or a Chartered Legal Executive,
- 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:
- The panel chair of the adjudicators will start the hearing. They will introduce the adjudicators and ask everyone else to introduce themselves.
- 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 your absence or whether you have been given the required amount of notice with regards to the appeal hearing.
- 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)
- You, or a representative acting on your behalf, will then be asked to present your case and call any witnesses.
- If you are not represented, the adjudicators may ask our advocate to introduce the background to the appeal.
- The adjudicators will then have the opportunity to ask you, and any witnesses who are there on your behalf, any questions they might have.
- Our advocate will then have the opportunity to ask you, and any witnesses who are there on your behalf, any questions.
- Our advocate 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.
- Both you and Social Work England's advocate will then have the opportunity to make any closing arguments about the appeal.
- 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 adviser 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's advocate. They will make their decisions solely on the documentation before them.
These meetings will take place by video conference and are heard in private.
Normally, the appeal panel will give its decision on the same day.
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 hearings team will tell you the outcome of your appeal, and the reasons for it, no more than 7 calendar days after the adjudicators has decided. The hearings 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 adjudicators 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.
For more information about making an appeal, please call us on 0808 196 2274 or email us on [email protected].
Last update: 29 July 2022
- Updated to reference changes to our rules
First published: 2 December 2019