Henry Vane, Hogan Lovells
"I believed that every single one of my clients deserved the benefits we were seeking on their behalf and I'm glad to help them, in a small way."
Hogan Lovell has been involved with Z2K’s Tribunal Project the longest out of all Law Firms, and we hugely appreciated their continued support and commitment. As a result of their involvement, they have taken a total of 25 cases to tribunal, awarding an astonishing £384,562.05 for our clients in financial benefit.
Henry Vane, a trainee solicitor at Hogan Lovells, sums the project and its work perfectly:
“Over the past 18 months I’ve represented seven different clients in welfare appeals, challenging the DWP’s decisions not to award them Personal Independence Payment or Employment Support Allowance (or award them at a lower rate than they should). I’m glad to say that I’ve won all my cases so far, although depressingly this is more a reflection on the questionable quality of the DWP’s original decisions than any brilliance on my part.
Z2K refers clients to Hogan Lovells who have a decent case, so you always know there will be a strong argument to be made. Thereafter, it’s a question of meeting with the client, drafting the submissions to send to the Tribunal and attending the hearing with them. At the hearing itself you basically sit back and let the client answer the Tribunal’s questions; the majority of the work, on our part, is in drafting the submissions. The law is not especially complicated here but the criteria are quite general (“Needs prompting to be able to either prepare or cook a simple meal”, for example) so you need to think carefully and not overstate your client’s case. This is probably the most valuable lesson I’ve learnt – avoid the temptation to throw everything at the wall and see what sticks. This just annoys the Tribunal and creates more work for you. Rather try and be more discriminating and precise in your arguments.
As a trainee at somewhere like Hogan Lovells you are typically the junior member of a large team, sometimes working on cases that have been ongoing for years. These welfare appeals can be a refreshing break from that; you are free to run your own case, see it through from start to finish, which is very satisfying. Mainly though, I believed that every single one of my clients deserved the benefits we were seeking on their behalf and I’m glad to help them, in a small way. Our welfare state is brilliant but imperfect and sometime cruel. Being reminded of that keeps things in perspective and provides a stimulating counterpoint to my day job.”
Henry’s statement above illustrates the huge benefits for trainees to get involved with the project, and the impact that involvement has on people like Hassan*:
Hassan had been on Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) since 2012 on the basis that he was suffering from various medical conditions, including abdominal problems, joint pains, liver problems and much more. In 2018, he was reassessed in relation to his eligibility for ESA, and he was deemed fit for work by the DWP. Hassan never leaves the flat unless he has to. He experiences sharp pains and discomfort even when sitting down, which makes walking a very painful and unpleasant activity. The health assessment was so inaccurate in their recording of Hassan’s health conditions during the assessment, that Z2K have lodged a complaint on the client’s behalf. As a result of Hogan Lovell’s support during the submissions and tribunal, Hassan was recommended never to be re-assessed again – a fantastic result. Additionally, Hassan will receive £2,237.90 in back payment and will receive £110.75 weekly going forward. Thank you Hogan Lovells for your support with this cases and many others.
On behalf of everyone at Z2K, a huge thank you to Henry and Hogan Lovells for continuing to support Z2K and the people we support.
*Names have been changed to protect clients identity