Joint Committee on Statutory Instruments Eighteenth Report


APPENDIX 4

Memorandum from the Department for Education and Skills

Special Educational Needs Tribunal (Time Limits) (Wales) Regulations 2001 (S.I. 2001/3982)

1. The Committee considered the Special Educational Needs Tribunal (Time Limits) (Wales) Regulations 2001 at its meeting on 21st January 2002 and requested a memorandum on the following points:

(1) Regulation 3(3) provides that the period within which the local education authority must comply with orders of the Tribunal is to begin on the day after the issue of the order in question. Explain what authorises this provision, given that section 336A(1) of the Education Act 1996 requires the authority to comply with the Tribunal's order before the end of the prescribed period beginning with the date on which it is made.

2. The Department respectfully acknowledges that it might have been preferable if the wording of regulation 3(3) had corresponded with the wording used in section 336A(1). The Department considers, however, that the purpose of the sub-section is to determine the end of the period of compliance with a Tribunal order and in practice this is achieved. The Department's intention in drafting regulation 3(3) was to allow time for the local education authority to receive the order through first class post before commencing the period allowed for compliance with the order.

3. The Department respectfully submits, therefore, that regulation 3(3) is not inconsistent with the authority conferred by section 336A(1).

(2) Regulation 3(4) provides that the authority need not comply with the time limits

mentioned in paragraph (2) if it is impractical to do so because of certain specified circumstances. Within what period must the authority comply with the Tribunal's order in the cases mentioned in that regulation, given that section 336A(1) requires the authority to comply with the Tribunal's order before the end of the prescribed period? Similar question on regulation 4(3) as regards the period within which the authority must take the requisite action, given that section 326A(4) requires it to be taken before the end of the prescribed period.

4. No specific period for compliance is provided for where the circumstances referred to in regulations 3(4) and 4(3) arise. The regulations reflect the fact that there will be circumstances where the local education authority will be unable to comply with the order within the prescribed period due to matters outside its control. In such circumstances it was considered inappropriate to specify a prescribed period as the circumstances the subject of the exception may continue indefinitely. It is submitted that the duty to comply with the order will nevertheless continue notwithstanding that the prescribed period has not been imposed and that whether a local educational authority has failed unreasonably to comply with an order will depend upon the particular circumstances of the case.

5. Regulations 3(4) and 4(3) reflect similar provisions in the Education (Special Educational Needs) (England) (Consolidation) Regulations 2001 (S.I. 2001/3455) and previously in the Education (Special Educational Needs) Regulations 1994 (S.I.1994/1047). Whilst not germane to the issue correctly identified by the Committee, the Department is not aware that the exceptions to the prescribed period have given rise to any difficulty in practice.

25th January 2002


 
previous page contents next page

House of Lords home page Parliament home page House of Commons home page search page enquiries index

© Parliamentary copyright 2002
Prepared 11 February 2002