Skip navigation

Social Security Case Law - Spring 2024

Summaries of recent cases on social security law and practice.

LPF v Department for Communities (PIP) [2023] NICom 38

You can read the full judgement here.



A procedural unfairness amounting to an error of law can occur if documents which contain material evidence to the appeal are not considered by the Tribunal when they make a decision.


The Applicant had previously been awarded DLA; low rate mobility and middle rate care component.  As the Applicant’s award of DLA was coming to an end, the Applicant made a claim for PIP on the basis of needs arising from anxiety, depression, high blood pressure, irritable bowel syndrome and back pain.  The Department decided that the Applicant did not satisfy the conditions for PIP.  The Applicant requested a reconsideration, but the Department did not revise the decision.  The Applicant appealed this decision and did not attend the appeal: the appeal was disallowed.  The Applicant then applied to the Social Security Commissioner on the basis that the Tribunal had erred in law by failing to consider her full medical history.  It was the Applicant’s case that she had submitted her medical notes to the Tribunal but these had been misled and were not considered by the Tribunal panel.

Legal Issue

Whether there was an error of law in the Tribunal’s reasoning as it had not considered documents which contained material evidence (the Applicant’s medical notes).


The Commissioner allowed the appeal and set aside the decision of the appeal Tribunal.

The Commissioner accepted that the Applicant believed that she had sent her medical notes to the Tribunal.  The Commissioner noted that:

‘A decision can be set aside on the grounds that a document relating to the proceedings was not received by a party or decision maker under regulation 57(1)(a) of the Social Security and Child Support (Decisions and Appeals) Regulations (NI) 1999.’

The Commissioner further noted that the Applicant’s medical notes were not considered by the Tribunal and this gave rise to a procedural unfairness which amounted to an error of law.  The Commissioner stated:

‘While this is an application based on error of law, the fact that documents relating to the proceedings were not before the tribunal which contained material evidence gives rise, in my view, to a procedural unfairness amounting to an error of law.’