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| 1 minute read

High Court confirms fixed time limits apply after annual reviews of EHC Plans

The High Court has handed down the long awaited judgment in R (L, M, P) v Devon CC [2022] EWHC 493 (Admin)

The case concerned the correct interpretation of the Special Educational Needs and Disability Regulations 2014 as they applied to the annual review process for EHC Plans. The High Court has now confirmed that:

  • Following an annual review meeting, if the local authority proposes to amend the EHC Plan they must notify the parents/young person within 4 weeks of the review meeting: Reg 20(10). At the same time, the local authority must send a notice specifying the proposed amendments: Reg 22(2)(a).
  • Where the local authority - after receiving representations on the proposed amendments from the parents/young person - decides to amend, they must issue the final amended EHC plan as soon as practicable and within 8 weeks of sending the notice specifying the proposed amendments: Reg 22(3).
  • Accordingly, there is a maximum timescale of 12 weeks from the review meeting until a final amended EHC plan must be issued.

The case was first heard in July 2020. The High Court determined the claim was academic and refused to determine the issue of statutory interpretation. The Claimants appealed to the Court of Appeal, who decided the interpretive issue was significant and should be determined by the High Court. The second High Court judgment was handed down last week.

The case is of significance to all children and young people with EHC Plans, which should be subject to annual reviews.

The Claimants were represented by Stephen Broach (39 Essex Chambers) and Alice Irving (Doughty Street Chambers) instructed by Dr Keith Lomax (Watkins Solicitors).

Watkins Solicitors' news story on the case can be found here.

[82] In spite of the resource implications of a time-limited amendment process, I am unconvinced that there is a particular reason for this stage of the process not to be subject to the exacting timetable which obtains elsewhere in the scheme. The need for a parent or young person to achieve certainty (either by acceptance in good time, or by way of appeal) is as acute in respect of amendments as it is on the initial provision of a plan. Evidence shows that where a very extended period is taken to produce certainty, serious prejudice may result...