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Alex Line successfully represents the Secretary of State for Education in regulatory appeal under s.129 of the Education and Skills Act 2008

Alex Line successfully represents the Secretary of State for Education in regulatory appeal under s.129 of the Education and Skills Act 2008

Alex Line, instructed by the government legal department, recently represented the Secretary of State for Education in Averre-Beeson v Secretary of State for Education [2024] UKFTT 00385 (HESC).

This was an appeal under s.129 of the Education and Skills Act 2008, which went to the Health, Education and Social Care Chamber of the First-tier Tribunal (in its Care Standards jurisdiction). These were long running proceedings emanating from a high profile and widely reported collapse of a large multi-academy trust.

The Appellant, a well-known figure in the schools industry, held various positions of responsibility within the trust. Following the trust’s demise, the Department for Education investigated concerns into his conduct including relating to the nature and propriety of the commercial relationships between his companies and the trust. The Appellant at all stages (including within the Tribunal proceedings) denied wrongdoing. A decision was ultimately taken by the Secretary of State to issue a direction under s.128 of the 2008, the effect of which was to ban the Appellant from participating in the management of schools. He appealed against this decision.

At the final hearing, on behalf of the Secretary of State, Alex raised novel arguments based on a recent court of appeal authority from a different regulatory context, Hussain (Nassim) v Waltham Forest London Borough Council [2023] EWCA Civ 733. He persuaded the Tribunal, based on principles arising from that case, that the scope of the Tribunal’s jurisdiction in a s.129 appeal was limited to a review, and that the burden of proof rested on the Appellant. This approach was contrary to the only previous decision under a s.129 appeal, a first instance case called Alam, where a re-hearing approach was taken and it was held that the burden of proof rested on the Secretary of State. As such, whilst a first instance decision, the Tribunal’s conclusion in Averre-Beeson is likely to be of importance to future appeals.

As a consequence of the Tribunal’s decision on this preliminary issue (and another concerning whether the appeal should be held in public or private), the Appellant decided to withdraw his appeal.

The Tribunals’ decision can be found here.

The matter was reported in school industry publications, click here to read.

Find out more

Alex Line specialises in the areas of employment and education law. He has extensive employment and discrimination law experience, having practised in these areas throughout his career at the Bar. He has a broad range of experience in education law matters, with particular expertise in the law relating to special educational needs. He is also well placed to assist with public law cases affecting these and associated areas.

To find out more about Alex, contact Paul Barton on +44 (0)207 427 4907 or Chris Rowe on +44 (0)207 427 4911.

News 24 May, 2024

Authors

Alexander Line

Call: 2009

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