The afternoon session of the Representatives Information Session included the opportunity to hear from sitting Panel Members who shared their thoughts on effective advocacy when appearing before the Review Tribunal. The Panel consisted of British Columbia members who have been sitting for some time and who I have had the opportunity to appear before.
Some of the tips the Review Tribunal panel members gave were - to use good time management - stick to the facts of the case, using your schedule appeal time to rant about the unfairness of the CPP legislation, or how you much you think "the Feds" suck is a complete waste of your time. Have a strong opening and closing statement and stick to the issues on appeal - use the Minister's Submission as a starting point - written submissions are helpful, and the Panel members really want to hear from the Appellant - what's the impairment and why you cannot work.
The Review Tribunal panel members are aware of the significance of the appeal and how much their decision will affect your life. All of the Panel members have the opportunity to write the final decision. However, although panel members are empathetic to each person's situation, they are obviously bound by the CPP legislation.
This was a good opportunity to hear what the decision makers think and what they feel is effective advocacy.
On March 31, 2010 I attended a seminar for those individuals who represent CPP disability appellants before Review Tribunals. OCRT held this event in Vancouver and it was attended by the Deputy Commissioner and senior OCRT staff who provided important information on their processes, key legal issues and current initiatives.
I have had the opportunity to attend this event on another occasion in Toronto, but because I enjoy a strong working-relationship with OCRT and because I like to keep abreast of current issues concering CPP appeals, I wanted to attend.
I felt that most of the information that was presented, although welcome, was geared toward those individuals who infrequently represented CPP appellants. I suppose the most important information that I learnt was that - The Minister requests Leave to Appeal on favourable Review Tribunal decisions 10 - 15% of the time, and that witnesses at Review Tribunal hearings will now be required to take an affirmation swearing that the evidence they shall give shall be the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.
Overall, I think that these events fostering outreach with OCRT are extremely beneficial and helpful.