James is an outstanding lawyer. He takes the time to listen, understand and advise appropriately and professionally. I would highly recommend him. – Chambers & Partners, 2023 (Rising Star)
His attention to detail is second to none, and it is clear that each case is handled with the utmost professionalism with the client kept central to the case. – Chambers & Partners, 2023 (Rising Star)
James Betts – one of the best education lawyers in the UK. I recommend him to anyone who wants a solicitor. He is very efficient and well organised; has excellent legal skills; and is very good at achieving a practical outcome using the law. – Legal 500, 2023 (Rising Star)
He is an excellent solicitor, particularly for SEN appeals in relation to which he has first class knowledge and experience, and judicial review challenges which engage education law issues. – Legal 500, 2023 (Rising Star)
He is precise, extremely knowledgeable and compassionate at all times. I would say his main strength is his high level of efficiency and resolute knowledge of what path should be taken. – Chambers and Partners 2022 (Star Associate)
He understands the challenges for a client while being able to recognise key legal issues and focus on those for the purposes of the legal proceedings. – Chambers and Partners 2022 (Star Associate)
James specialises in education, community care, and mental capacity law, including claims for judicial review and in the Court of Protection. Having previously worked as a teaching assistant to children with special educational needs, over the last 10 years he has developed a particular reputation for his work in special educational needs and disability (‘SEND’) law and is recognised to be an expert in the field.
He frequently represents parents and individuals appealing to the Special Educational Needs and Disability Tribunal regarding Education, Health and Care Plans (‘EHCP’) and assessments..
James has supported parents to obtain additional 1:1 and therapy support, placements at specialist independent schools and colleges, residential placements and home-based education otherwise than at school (EOTAS) programmes (including ABA provision).
James also works with case managers and deputies to advise on eligibility for statutory funding for the clients they support. He advises schools on pupil related issues and regularly delivers training on special educational needs law to charities, schools and other lawyers. His reported cases include:
- DM v Cornwall County Council  UKUT 230 (AAC) – An appeal to the Upper Tribunal in which it was confirmed that provision may need to appear more explicitly in a case where a child is being educated outside of school (sometimes referred to as EOTAS provision)
- Re Z (A Child: Deprivation of Liberty: Transition Plan)  EWHC 3038 (Fam) – in which the High Court gave guidance to local authorities and families seeking to move a child into a placement where restraint and restrictions on liberty are required.
- L (An Infant), R (On the Application Of) v Buckinghamshire County Council  EWHC 1817 – in which, for the first time, the High Court considered the law in relation to Children’s Centres.
Recent case highlights include:
- Securing a specialist residential placement for a young person with a diagnosis of Autistic Spectrum Disorder. Before instructing Rook Irwin Sweeney the young person had been out of education for over a year and had been told their EHCP had been ceased. With James’ support the EHCP was re-instated and a specialist placement was achieved during the course of an appeal to the SEND Tribunal.
- Acting in successful appeal in which the Upper Tribunal first considered the amount of specificity needed when a child or young person is receiving a package of education outside of school (i.e. an EOTAS package).
- Supporting parents to obtain full time 1:1 support for their daughter at school. James provided advice and support during the child’s Annual Review which meant the extra support was secured without need for an appeal to the Tribunal.
- Successfully appealing a decision which resulted in the council agreeing (prior to the Tribunal hearing) to conduct an EHC assessment for our client’s four year old daughter.
- Advising the governing body of a maintained school regarding proposals to increase school capacity.
- Supporting an independent provider of education and care to secure additional funding for the specialist support that they provide.
‘This is the second time we have engaged the help of James Betts to help navigate through or daughters educational placement at both secondary school and college and her associated EHCP. We simply cannot praise James enough. He is so thorough and determined. We have been able to avoid tribunal on both occasions, all of which I put down to his perseverance and tenacity. We would not have achieved the level of support and college placement if it weren’t for James. We would not hesitate in recommending James and Rook Irwin Sweeney to any family who needed help with their child’s SEN provision.’ – Mr and Mrs Wild
‘I was recently represented by James Betts For and on behalf of Rook Irwin Sweeney LLP in the appeal against sections B & F of my daughters EHC plan. The case was heard at tribunal and we secured a significant number of amendments to my daughters EHC plan which now accurately reflects her needs and the provision required. James was incredible throughout. His communication with his clients is outstanding as is his attention to detail and he always brings a sense of calm during the stressful times of the appeal process. Through his work it is clear that his role is not just a job to him but that he genuinely cares about the cases he is involved with and that he is passionate about securing the correct outcome for the children and families he represents. I cannot thank him or speak highly enough. James Betts really is the best at what he does and wish him further success throughout his career’ – Victoria McMullin
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