HESC: A brief overview

The Heath, Education and Social Care Chamber (HESC) was established in 2008 pursuant to the Tribunals, Courts and Enforcement Act 2007. Our courts and Chamber are independent of all government departments, local authorities, health trusts and responsible bodies.  We are a neutral adjudicator of the appeals and cases that come before us.

Today, the Health, Education and Social Care Chamber is formed into a number of specialist courts dealing with mental health hearings as well as cases involving children with special educational needs, cases about doctors providing services under the National Health Service, and cases about professional standards in some of the caring sectors and professions.

HESC’s 1700 judges and judicial office holders provide an independent backstop
and safeguard in those cases, providing both a review and remedy for thousands of parties each year. Since 2008, decisions from the First-tier Tribunal go on appeal to the Upper Tribunal. There is no automatic right of appeal – permission has to be given either by the First- tier Tribunal or by the Upper Tribunal itself.

Parties who appear before the Health, Education and Social Care Chamber include self-represented individuals, parents, patients, representatives and lawyers for individuals and public bodies, as well as representatives from local authorities and responsible bodies, health trusts and hospitals.   

The Heath, Education and Social Care Chamber is committed to providing the public with an accessible and efficient appeal and reference process and to working together to maintain a fair and independent judiciary.

Our presidents

A profile photo of Judge Mark Sutherland Williams. He is smiling at the camera, and is wearing a blue suit.
Chamber President Judge Sutherland Williams

The creation of a Presidential structure of judicial leadership has enabled policy and practice to be streamlined and made more consistent. The Chamber is led by Judge Mark Sutherland Williams, President, who assumed this role from His Honour Judge Phillip Sycamore CBE in 2020. More information about the current President can be read here.

Judge Sycamore

Judge Sycamore held office as the first President of the First-tier Tribunal (HESC) between 2008 and 2020. His other senior judicial office was as a Deputy High Court Judge.  As Deputy Vice President of Tribunals, he led initiatives on reform and developing frameworks for training, appraisal, discipline and welfare for judges and members. As President of the Law Society of England and Wales (1997-1998) he was involved in a range of regulatory matters affecting the solicitors’ profession. The separate Solicitors Regulation Authority was established in 2007. He was a Senior Commissioner at the Judicial Appointments Commission from 2014 to 2020. His other roles have included: Honorary Recorder of Lancaster, Member of the Council of the University of Lancaster, Member of the Queens Counsel Selection Panel and as a Sports Arbitrator.

Judge Sarah Johnston

In this Chamber of the First-tier Tribunal there are two Deputy Chamber Presidents. These are senior roles that relate to the day-to-day operation of the individual jurisdictions and courts within the Chamber. Judge Sarah Johnston is the Deputy Chamber President for Mental Health and leads in relation to mental health and restricted patient cases, and Judge Meleri Tudur is the Deputy Chamber President and jurisdictional lead for special educational needs, disability discrimination, primary health lists and care standards appeals.

Judge Meleri Tudur