UFU and DAERA come to CAP review agreement outside of court

Farmers in Northern Ireland will retain the right to have an independent review of their CAP application – but only if they are willing to pay for it.

The Ulster Farmers’ Union (UFU) and the Northern Ireland’s Department of Agriculture Environment and Rural Affairs (DAERA) reached agreement on a judicial review challenge set to go before the High Court in Northern Ireland.

How it began

UFU began action to challenge DAERA’s decision in January 2018 after the department announced it would replace its two-stage area-based review process of CAP decisions (internal review by DAERA followed by an independent Panel) with a single-stage process involving only internal review by DAERA.

The department had argued that the one-stage process would speed up reviews on applications, which would be better for farmers. However, the UFU was unsatisfied saying that removing the independent board element was likely to mean farmers would not receive a fair hearing.

The new single-stage appeal process was introduced for applications received from April 1, 2018.

The UFU sought a quashing order of the decision and challenged it on domestic law, EU law and human rights grounds.

The case was one of two judicial reviews put forward by the union against the department. The other based on cuts to a Co. Armagh farmer’s Basic Payment was won in court two weeks ago.

Today, the High Court in Northern Ireland announced it had approved an agreement reached between the parties.

DAERA has agreed to retain the Independent Stage 2 Panel subject to the following primary conditions:

  • Users of the Independent Stage 2 Panel shall be charged the sum of £200, with this fee to be subject to review by the department within 18 months.
  • Users of the Independent Stage 2 Panel shall be entitled to introduce new evidence only if exceptional circumstances or force majeure are established.
  • The final decision on any individual case shall remain with DAERA.

Both the UFU and DAERA have welcomed the positive engagement which has led to the resolution of the case.

DAERA will move quickly to engage with stakeholders to confirm acceptance of the revised approach and, subject to the outcome of this process, apply it to all review applications received from April 2018.