UFU rural enterprise chairman, John Watt said the letters stem from cases referred to OFGEM from the Department of the Economy (DfE).
He added:“These letters are placing additional stress on farmers already under enormous pressure. In some cases, tens and even hundreds of thousands of pounds in repayments are being demanded.
“The grounds for seeking to impose these sanctions are flimsy and unacceptable and so too is the time frame for repayments. These tactics are unfair and are a mental health risk to farmers who are unknowing victims of a botched scheme.” According to the Union, OFGEM state claim allegations have been proven, but in many instances this is based upon participants failing to present evidence to the contrary. They are now seeking repayments within 28 days.
The UFU is urging members unhappy with the OFGEM decision to consider seeking a statutory review. This must be sought within 28 days of receiving the letter. Members should consider using a solicitor in drafting their request. Some farm insurance policies include business legal cover provided by the specialist legal insurance company, DAS Legal.
“These policies cover legal expenses where the probability of success is 51 percent or greater, but again they will need to check with their insurer.
John Watt concluded: “The all important message is to remember that there is a 28-day limit to mount a defence. Inaction is not an option.”