HC Deb 27 June 1996 vol 280 c189W
Mr. Sykes

To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster if he will make a statement on progress with developing a model for appeals against enforcement action. [35080]

Mr. Freeman

A new model mechanism for appeals against enforcement action has been set out in S.I. 1678, which was laid before Parliament today.

This new model provides for a speedier and cheaper way of resolving disputes on enforcement of regulations. At the same time, it incorporates procedures that will ensure every opportunity is made available to business to resolve disputes informally without having to resort to the appeal process.

The model has been developed through wide consultation with the business and regulatory community, drawing on best practice from existing appeal procedures.

Features of the model include: rights to make representation before formal action is taken, unless urgent action is necessary; provision for an appeal tribunal to be set up by the Minister responsible for the legislation, to resolve disputes that cannot be resolved informally; time limits for each stage of the appeal process; appeals to be considered on their merits by the tribunal; assistance with an effective and efficient resolution of disputes, for which pre-hearing reviews will be encouraged; and, where appropriate, the decision of the tribunal can be based on written submissions only, avoiding the time and costs of oral hearings.

Each tribunal will be made up of a legally qualified chairman assigned from a panel appointed by the Lord Chancellor in England and Wales and the Lord Advocate in Scotland; a member who is expert in the field; and a member representing business. Each tribunal will be supported by a registrar to provide for active case management.

The model is designed to apply across a wide range of policy areas. The rights to make representations at an early stage have already been implemented by the Environment Agency and for health and safety legislation. They will shortly be applied to food safety and building regulations, and later in the year to fire safety and consumer affairs.