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I specialise in helping people resolve disputes with local authorities about the education, social care, and other support they are entitled to.
My clients include parents of children with special educational needs, disabled adults, and vulnerable young people.
I regularly represent parents and young people in the Special Educational Needs and Disability Tribunal. I've had lots of success ensuring that local authorities complete Education and Health Care (EHC) needs assessments and issue lawful EHC plans. I've secured several high-value independent special school placements for my clients.
I also represent people in need of support from social services such as care leavers, children under 18 that are unable to live at home, young people leaving custody and disabled adults that require more support than the council are willing to provide.
I studied law at university and saw how important it was in ensuring that people’s rights were protected.
My interest in special educational needs law was sparked following time working as a teaching assistant supporting children with special educational needs.
Knowing that the outcomes we achieve make a real difference to the lives of our clients.
It is also a really interesting area to work in. The law is changing all the time and no case is the same as the last.
The work is ever more crucial in the current climate in which local authority budgets are being slashed and local authorities are having to make increasing amounts of unlawful decisions. This makes it even more important to challenge decisions with judicial review and Tribunal appeals and make sure that local authorities meet their legal obligations to children and adults in need of support.
Working as part of a team dedicated to getting the best results for their clients.
I have a season ticket at Manchester United but this hasn't been that fun since around the time Alex Ferguson retired.
I love cooking and eating out and, in my younger days, dabbled in music promotion, bringing bands from as far away as the USA, Canada and Sweden to the north of England.
"He's very efficient and very friendly. He kept our child's best interests and welfare at the heart of everything." - Chambers & Partners, 2019
"A client notes: 'James is very pragmatic and it has always been evident that he genuinely cares about achieving the best outcome for the client. I have always found him to be very accessible, easy to work with, and extremely professional at all times.'" - Chambers & Partners, 2018
"Recommended for assisting children with special educational needs" - Legal 500, 2017
"We were fortunate to have the services of James Betts from Irwin Mitchell for a dispute with our local authority [over] our son’s EHC Plan not being funded properly. . . . Irwin Mitchell took . . . the stress off my shoulders and also helped me access legal aid as my son is over 18. I’d definitely recommend contacting Irwin Mitchell to advise and act for your child or young person if you are in a similar situation." – Deborah, former client. Read the full review here.
"Help when you need it most - I would have no hesitation in recommending Irwin Mitchell, and especially James Betts, to anyone needing assistance with a care provision problem with a local authority. We received excellent support and contact with James was straight forward and told us exactly what we needed to know. We always felt that we were the most important part of the case and the outcome was exactly what we asked for in the first instance. James was the strong and knowledgeable support we needed when all else had failed." - Trustpilot review
“This is a great outcome for Nikki and all those who are campaigning to stop attempts to cut SEN funding. The support for the crowdfunding appeal and the hundreds who responded to the public consultation shows how much the issue matters to local people. Hopefully now LLC, parents, carers and providers can work together to reach a consensus over future provision.”
“We are naturally disappointed with the outcome of this Judicial Review and are currently discussing the options with our client including an appeal against the decision.
“Our client brought this case as the children centres in Buckinghamshire have been invaluable to her and her family. She remains of the view that the planned closures will have a major negative impact on her children and others families and young children across Buckinghamshire. We are aware that many families have found the current situation hugely distressing and it is important that their voices have been heard.”
“Strong legal arguments have been made and we have been granted permission by the High Court to proceed on every ground argued. We are pleased the Court agrees our client has an arguable case that needs to be considered further.
“The judge has said the case needs to be heard urgently and a full hearing is to take place on 2-3 July which is great news for all involved.
The universal nature of services offered by children’s centres, provide vital support to local communities and we are pleased that this decision means that parents will have an opportunity to have their case heard. Children’s centres aim to give all children the best possible start in life and enable parents to support their child and family. They provide open access support which can be accessed at any time alongside regular stay and play sessions and parenting courses. These are vital services which support a range of parents and children.
The Court’s decision means that it is now possible the decision to close the centres will be quashed and overturned in as little as three weeks’ time. We look forward to being able to raise the issues in Court again at the full hearing in July.”
“Children’s centres provide vital support to families in a range of situations and our client and her son have benefitted greatly from the access to the services at Millbrook.
“However, the planned closure of the site and the wider proposals to completely reshape services across the county will make it much harder for families with young children in the area to get the support they need.
“They and many other families have found the current situation hugely distressing and we believe the council should have done more when considering this issue. We are now determined to ensure that our client gets their voice heard on this emotive matter.”
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