29 June 2001
Farmer fights to recover legal costs
By Robert Davies
A SHROPSHIRE beef producer is fighting to recover legal costs incurred during a dispute with the government over farm subsidies.
Tim Teague of Manor House Farm, Craven Arms, had employed the law firm Burges Salmon during a dispute with the now defunct Ministry of Agriculture.
The ministry had told him he would forfeit all area-linked livestock premiums because he entered the wrong eligible forage area on his 2000 IACS form.
Like many farmers, he had left completion of the form so close to the deadline there was no time to seek guidance on what to do about land he had leased out.
“I simply put down the farms total forage area and sent a covering letter explaining about the grass let,” admitted Mr Teague.
The ministry, however, insisted that the error meant Mr Teagues holding had fallen outside the scheme and 24,000 of payments would be withheld.
Despite months of correspondence, the ruling stayed the same until Burges Britsol-based Salmon formed a legal challenge.
But a claim for the legal fees incurred was rejected.
MAFF said compensation was not appropriate “as the appeal would have been successful regardless of the solicitors involvement.”
But Mr Teague argues that he had to have legal help when all his pleas for common sense and the restoration of payments were rejected.
He claims that he did not know about the formal appeals procedure and it was not mentioned in any MAFF correspondence.