The Department for Work & Pensions has agreed to amend the way it contacts people appealing their benefit decisions with new offers, and to stop calling them when a court hearing is imminent. Public law specialists say the case highlights the importance of judicial review, which the government is seeking to reform.

Public Law Project said its client, a disabled woman known as ‘K’, spent more than a year trying to persuade the DWP to change the 'unfair, unlawful and discriminatory' nature of the practice. The department finally agreed the day before K’s judicial review claim was due to be heard.

Public Law Project said the DWP telephoned K – who had begun the process for appealing her benefit decision - without warning and pressured her into accepting more money than had been offered before, but not the full entitlement. K was told she had an hour to consider the offer and the DWP said ‘tribunals are not very nice to go to’. K did not think she could appeal the new offer and was not told about her rights. Public Law Project said the department had called other claimants, encouraging them to accept offers lower than their statutory entitlement.

The High Court was due to hear K's challenge on Tuesday. However, a consent order issued by the Honourable Mrs Justice Foster DBE states that the DWP has agreed to change its policy on ‘revising’ benefit decisions and the claim for judicial review has been withdrawn.

In a statement, a DWP spokesperson said: ‘We contact people if we can revise a decision and increase their benefits award as a result of new evidence becoming available after their appeal was lodged – and they always have the option to continue with their appeal or challenge a revised decision.

‘We have addressed PLP’s concerns by improving our guidance on telephone calls so options and appeal rights are always clearly set out, as well as stopping making contact when a tribunal is imminent, and we are pleased they have withdrawn their case.’

Public Law Project solicitor Sara Lomri said the case highlights the importance of judicial review, which the government wants to reform. ‘This case shows why there must be an accessible legal route for people to hold public authorities to account. The law is there for us all to follow, and when the state makes a mistake, acts unlawfully, and will not change itself, there must be a way to correct it,’ she said.