The Presenting Officer at the Appeal Hearing
AT hearings before social security appeal tribunals, an adjudication officer is entitled to be present, to be heard, and to call and question witnesses.1 This officer need not be the one who took the original decision which is the subject of appeal, and practices vary according to the type of benefit in question. Income support adjudication officers do not appear before tribunals, and in these cases specialist appeals officers responsible for processing the appeal in the local office attend the hearing instead. On the other hand, most contributory benefit and unemployment benefit adjudication officers appear at tribunals, sometimes presenting their own decisions, sometimes those of colleagues. When carrying out this function, adjudication and appeals officers are known as presenting officers. In Chapter 3 we discussed how the tribunal exerts, through the mediating role of the presenting officer, a significant influence on initial decision making and on the internal review process within local offices. This chapter is concerned with the role played by presenting officers at appeal hearings and the factors which influence or constrain their behaviour.
To investigate these matters, we interviewed a total of 178 presenting officers, ninety-three at the tribunal and eighty-five within local offices.2 It was usual at most tribunals for one officer to deal with a batch of cases at each hearing, and it was our practice to conduct a single interview with the officer at the end____________________