The following elements of the Agricultural Development Scheme (ADS) may lead to appeals following decisions made by DEFA officers:
- Imposition of penalties following the late return of ADS application forms including declarations of eligible farmed areas
- Imposition of penalties due to making a false declaration on census/ADS application forms
- Outcome of cross compliance inspections and subsequent imposition of penalties
- Outcome of works approval decisions
It should be noted that the appeal process cannot be used to appeal against:
- payment rates set for schemes
- decisions relating to schemes administered by other Departments/Services
Purpose of appeals process
The process is designed to enable farmers, who feel that DEFA has made an incorrect decision in relation to a claim for payment under ADS, to have access to a fair and independent appeals procedure. The procedure includes reviewing decisions and checking that they were made objectively and in keeping with legislation.
The Committee dealing with appeals cannot:
- work outside of the law
- award compensation
- make arbitrary or subjective decisions
There are 2 stages to the procedure:
Stage 1 - internal DEFA review
A Stage 1 appeals form should be completed; receipt of completed forms will be acknowledged. The DEFA team will compile details of the case, taking account of policy, scheme and agricultural matters. Staff not involved with the original decision will be asked to review the information and notify the applicant of their conclusion within 30 days of the appeal having been received in the Department. Where resources allow, staff not involved with the original application or notification decision will review the matter, checking the facts and compliance with the Scheme requirements.
Stage 2 - external review
If applicants are not satisfied with the outcome of the Stage 1 appeal, they have 60 days from the date of the Stage 1 decision letter to request a review by the Appeals Committee. A Stage 2 appeals form should be completed and payment made of £300; receipt of completed forms will be acknowledged. An appeal hearing will be arranged within 60 days of receipt of the Stage 2 completed application. The Appeals Committee consists of an industry representative, a DEFA representative (who has not been involved in either the original decision or the Stage 1 appeal) and a person selected for their independence and their professional knowledge of the subject area. A list of those willing to sit on the panel will be published together with a note of their area of expertise can be found on the Appeals committee webpage.
For the Stage 2 appeal, applicants can either apply in writing or ask to attend the Appeals Committee meeting when it attends to their case:
The appeal form and all other relevant paperwork will be considered by the Appeals Committee and a report plus recommendation sent to the Minister for DEFA. The applicant will receive all the paperwork to be considered by the Committee in advance of their meeting but will not attend it in person.
The applicant will receive all the paperwork to be considered by the Committee in advance of their meeting. They will attend part of the meeting and be able to present their case and respond to questions. Applicants can be accompanied and can appoint someone to represent them. Once the presentation and questions have been completed, the applicant will leave and the Appeals Committee panel will consider the matter.
The Committee's report and recommendations will be sent to the Minister within 90 days of the Stage 2 being received; the Minister will have 28 days to make their decision. The Department will then provide written notification of the Minister's decision within 28 working days of the date of that decision being made. Where an appeal is particularly complex then a further period of consideration may be required, if this is required then the appellant will be notified in writing.
In order to ensure a consistent approach to all appeals, the Stage 2 Appeals Committee will produce a decision note on each case and this will be updated on their webpage.
There will be no charge for a Stage 1 appeal but a charge of £300 will be made for Stage 2 appeals. It will be refunded if the appeal is successful.
Submitting an appeal
It is important that the applicant provides full and relevant information to explain their grounds for appeal. Any supporting evidence should be attached and the form signed. Applicants will be advised to keep a copy for their records. Once received, appeals will be assigned a reference number and receipt acknowledged.
|Appellant to submit completed Stage 1 appeal form to DEFA||within 60 days of original DEFA decision letter|
|DEFA internal Stage 1 review and notify conclusion to appellant||within 30 days of Stage 1 appeal being received by DEFA|
|Appellant to submit completed Stage 2 appeal form to DEFA along with payment of £300||within 60 days of original Stage 1 DEFA decision letter|
|DEFA to notify Appellant and Committee of date of Stage 2 Appeal Hearing and provide all relevant paperwork||5 days before the Stage 2 Appeal Hearing|
|DEFA to hold Stage 2 Appeal Hearing – oral or written review||within 60 days of receipt of Stage 2 appeal being received by DEFA|
|DEFA to send Stage 2 committee’s report and recommendations to the Minister||within 90 days of receipt of Stage 2 appeal being received by DEFA|
|DEFA Minister to review and make decision||within 28 days of receipt of Stage 2 report|
|DEFA to notify Appellant of Stage 2 appeal outcome||within 28 working days of the Minister making their decision|
|DEFA to anonymously summarise appeal outcome and decision on the DEFA website||within 28 working days of the Minister making their decision|
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