The Rural Payment Agency is the branch of DEFRA that administers payments of European subsidies to farmers across the UK under the Common Agricultural Policy. In 2016 the scheme changed from the Single Payment Scheme (SPS) to the Basic Payment Scheme (BPS).
It is anticipated that a number of factors associated with this change (including a notorious breakdown of the computer system in 2015) will lead to an unprecedented increase in mistakes being made and farmers being paid less than their entitlement or nothing at all. Of more concern is the fear that the RPA will allege that farmers have over-claimed or been overpaid and will then impose punitive financial sanctions.
If you are concerned that the RPA have made a mistake you can appeal against that decision. The first stage of any appeal is an internal review by RPA staff. It is unlikely that your complaint will be upheld at this stage in which case your appeal can be escalated to the next stage when the matter will be considered by the Independent Agricultural Appeals Panel (IAAP). The IAAP is comprised of non-RPA staff all of whom have a background in agriculture. One of these is our own solicitor-advocate, Martin Winter who has been a member of the IAAP since 2014 and has already been selected to Chair appeal hearings.
We are able to provide initial advice on any RPA appeal. Our experience of these matters is that many non-legal professionals that offer advice on RPA appeals often miss the key legal points that need to be addressed, especially in relation to the concepts of "exceptional circumstances" or "force majeure" which have specific legal meaning. Also, the payment scheme is heavily influenced by complicated European Regulations and Directives that require a lawyer's skill and experience to navigate.
We will provide an initial opinion on the strengths of your appeal for a fixed fee of £199. We are also able to represent you at the appeal hearing. You can send us a message now via our contact page.