A very appealing decision!

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With the very busy schedules that farmers must adhere to throughout the farming calendar year, it is all too easy to miss important deadlines. Some deadlines are etched in farmers’ minds, the 15th May (or 15th June as it was this year), Basic Payment Scheme deadline being one of many.

However, it is even more difficult for farmers to appreciate that they must act quickly if they receive a letter, formal confirmation or a message on their RPW account, informing them of a decision made by the Welsh Government in relation to any cross compliance breaches or to their BPS entitlements.

This article attempts to clarify and embedded these time limits allowed for making an appeal against a decision taken relating to their BPS entitlements. Currently we have a two-stage appeals process.

Stage One – appeal applications, including any supporting evidence must be received by Welsh Government within 60 days of the date of the letter detailing the decision. Appeals should be made in writing or via email, and officials will undertake an internal review with a senior official consider whether the initial decision was arrived at correctly, taking into account the case and any supporting documentation. A full response will then be issued in writing, advising whether the appeal has been successful or not and the reasons for the decision.

Stage Two – allows a farmer 60 days from the date of the Stage One Decision Letter to appeal to the Independent Appeals Secretariat at the Llandrindod Wells Divisional Office. The request must be made in writing and an application form (GAPv4) completed. The second stage appeal is then considered by an independent panel which makes a recommendation to the Minister for Rural Affairs who makes the final decision. An appeal fee is required which is £100 for an oral hearing and £50 for a written hearing.

There is also a third stage available to a farmer who is dissatisfied by the decision reached by the Minister which is to make an application for a judicial review. This application is made in the High Court and can be used to challenge the validity of how a decision was made i.e. whether the decision was reasonably of fairly reached. Farmers should take advice immediately upon receipt of the decision of the Minister as to whether their case has the merits for an application for judicial review. The urgency is necessitated by the fact that an application of this kind must be filed at Court promptly and no later than 3 months from the date of the decision.

Therefore, farmers need to be vigilant as to when decisions are made by Welsh Government in relation to their farming businesses and act upon them immediately by contacting their Union or legal representative to obtain advice on the merits of making an appeal or application for judicial review.

If you require any advice or help with submitting an appeal, please get in touch with Katie Davies on 01558 650381.