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Representation for PIP tribunal

Joe__F
Joe__F Member Posts: 29 Connected
I'm currently organising representation for my PIP tribunal. I've had a look online at three different firms who offer this service. They all seem to offer to write the submission and represent at the tribunal.

1) Scott Moncrieff charge a £1700 upfront payment
2) Community Legal Representation charge 35% of backpay, no win no fee
3) Disability Claims charge £1000 upfront, and a further £3000 in case of positive outcome of the tribunal

I have never needed legal representation before in my life, and I feel like I don't have a lot to go on to evaluate these different firms, how good a job they might do in representing me etc. They all cite very high success rates in PIP tribunals, and all tell me that they have at least 10 years experience working with disability benefits appeals.

Has anybody here been represented by one of these firms before for a PIP tribunal? It would be great to hear about other people's experiences, to help me decide who to go with.

Comments

  • poppy123456
    poppy123456 Member Posts: 25,627 Disability Gamechanger
    You should never ever pay anyone to help/support and represent you for any Tribunal. There's advice agencies out there that will help you for free. Start here. https://advicelocal.uk/

  • calcotti
    calcotti Member Posts: 3,792 Disability Gamechanger
    Try https://advicelocal.uk/
    See if you can get anyone to rep you.
    You shouldn’t be paying for representation at a tribunal.
    Information I post is for England unless otherwise stated. Rules may be different in other parts of UK.
  • mikehughescq
    mikehughescq Member Posts: 8,281 Disability Gamechanger
    Allow me to expand on the above. 

    Most representation for social security tribunals is available for free. You cannot get legal aid for repping at a tribunal. You can get it for the prep. That’s why few law firms do this stuff.

    They need to charge because it’s the only way to recoup their money for work which often takes longer than a legal aid contract might allow. No profit unless they charge. 

    There is zero evidence that a paid for service produces better results than a free one but in order to persuade people to pay for something they can get for free they only have two cards to play. The first is that they cite qualifications. The second is that they cite success rates. Both are potential red flags. 

    Of course the success rate is high for some of these firms. They cannot get legal aid for cases which seem unlikely to win and so they cherry pick cases which will persuade legal aid to pay up. The cases they cherry pick are inevitably winners i.e. it is likely the case would win anyway with or without representation. So, a success rate tells you nothing. It is important to remember that most people who win at tribunal do so without representation. It’s easy to misrepresent a tribunal as an insurmountable, scary thing that you cannot and must not tackle alone. Nothing could be further from the truth. Yes, representation can help but it’s real value is in taking cases which are not dead cert winners and turning them into winners. 

    Qualifications are a minefield. For welfare rights they are irrelevant. Experts in WR won’t have picked that up during a law degree as there’s barely a semester on the subject; it skims the surface and what you learn is out of date by the time you have your degree. There are WR qualifications to be had but they carry little weight because so few employers ask for them. Experience and demonstrable knowledge is what counts. 

    Lay people are often easily impressed by qualifications. Disability lawyer is a favourite phrase. Not illegal but totally meaningless. There is no such role. It’s just two words pushed together. You’re either a practising solicitor or you’re not. Ditto barrister. If you’re practicing you will be registered and traceable. Either way, neither are qualifications which make you good at WR. 

    I don’t propose to comment further on the above. However, there is no need for one advice service to disrespect another. Why would you? To say there is more than enough demand for advice and representation would be understating it. You don’t need to get business by slagging off other services. 

    In that context you could look again at your three links and ask yourselves whether your disability lawyer ever did any more than get a law degree? Whether your barrister ever practised? Whether a service which actively disrespects Citizens Advice and charities is one with a moral compass pointing in the right direction? Alternatively you could take the advice above and search for free representation in your area. I know which one I’d do.  
  • Dibbo
    Dibbo Member Posts: 1 Listener
    edited January 11
    Initially I was very worried about my PIP application and fully expected to use a legal firm.

    In the event I was awarded PIP and need not have worried. I know solicitors are expensive but I didn't expect the sorts of costs the original poster gave which seem quite steep. Some of those costs seem set to increase further, too!

    I have had some very good free help with benefits applications and wonder if that might be a more affordable route, as some here have suggested. I found it can be hard getting the right person and takes alot of time but for me it was worth persisting.

    I also joined the "Benefits and Work" website which is mentioned here from time to time (membership costs about £20 a year). I found their guides and checklists very useful, although I personally didn't get as much help from their forum.

    I wish you the best of luck in sorting this out!

  • mikehughescq
    mikehughescq Member Posts: 8,281 Disability Gamechanger
    edited January 12
    I should of course have clarified that it’s unlikely that most of the companies listed above have legal aid contracts for social security bar the legal firm (I’ve not checked). Charging will therefore be to cover staff and admin costs as well as to make a profit.

    Benefits and Work forum is largely dead. Advisers don’t need it as they have Rightsnet whilst claimants don’t know about it because the name doesn’t join the dots for them. In my view they are increasingly redundant as much of what they ask you to pay for is available freely on the net nowadays. Having seen some of it I can see why it’s successful but I also disagree with parts of it. Things have arguably moved on. Steve Donnison is definitely one of the good guys though to the best of my knowledge. So, my personal view is that like paying for WR advice you are arguably throwing good money after bad. 

    I absolutely agree about finding the right person. It’s okay to go to an advice service and say “give me somebody else” provided you can articulate why. Even when advisers are allocated geographically most good services will try and accommodate you although it very much comes down to capacity i.e. much easier for a service with 50 staff than one with 5.

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