POs rights at a hearing

Recent epiphany or ‘event’ – Telephone appeal – minus appellant.

Tribunal opined they would go ahead on the papers – PO demanded a full hearing as dept has a right to ask questions of the appellant at a hearing.

Suggested otherwise and seeing as tribunal had decided to adjourn requested directions for questions to be submitted in writing before next tribunal.

“but I have follow up questions, that depend upon her answers ” says PO

So…….. Is cross examination by the PO allowed? Can the PO do a Columbo “Just one more thing….”?

DMG suggests yes and refusal could lead to PTA to UT – I note no evidence or law is relied upon for this opinion/guidance….

see 06438 and more in attached

A lot of work has been done on vulnerable witnesses and access to justice in other fields.

“…how the courts treat those who are exposed and weak is a barometer of our moral worth as a
society. Many of those we encounter in the criminal and family courts are from troubled backgrounds and have suffered a lifetime of disadvantage, prejudice and abuse.” *

*Addressing Vulnerability in Justice Systems; The Advocate’s Gateway (Wildy, Simmons and Hill); Introduction.


There’s also the attached practice direction – I have used this in the past – to be read with the act itself (attached.)

Now I’m not suggesting the PO can’t ask questions or draw attention to inconsistencies in evidence or help the tribunal in any other way, but in the vast majority of cases I do feel the correct procedure would be that the PO addresses the tribunal and if required they address the appellant/representative.

Can’t help thinking we’ve been doing it wrong for years……?


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