Joint Committee on Statutory Instruments Sixteenth Report


Memorandum by the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food

The Foot-and-Mouth Disease (Ascertainment of Value) (No. 4) Order (S.I. 2001/1242)

1. The Committee considered the above instrument at its meeting on 24 April 2001 and has requested a memorandum on the following points:

    (1)  Article 2(4) provides that, where the owner of an animal—

      (a)  decides that he wishes to have the animal valued by a valuer; or

      (b)  has not expressed any wish under paragraph (3) or (4)(a) in respect of an animal liable to be slaughtered at the direction of the Minister prior to the slaughter of that animal,

      the value of the animal is the amount determined in writing by a valuer appointed by the Minister.

      (i)  in relation to subparagraph (a), what steps the owner must take, and within what period of time, once he decides that he wishes to have the animal valued by a valuer;

      (ii)  the intended effect of subparagraph (b), and why it is needed. Does that subparagraph have the effect that, where the owner does not wish to have the animal valued by the valuer, the value of the animal is to be the amount determined by the valuer? If so, how is it consistent with article 2(3)?

2. The Ministry submits that this Order has to be considered in the light of the current foot-and-mouth disease emergency. An important factor in this regard is that once the decision to slaughter an animal has been taken it is imperative, in the interests of effective disease control, that the slaughter takes place as soon as possible. Instructions to Foot-and-Mouth Disease Operations Directors issued by the Ministry provide that affected animals are to be slaughtered as soon as possible and in all cases within 24 hours of report. Thus any mechanism by which compensation is provided must not impede slaughter of animals. A copy of these Instructions are attached to assist the Committee.

3. The effect of article 2(3) of the Order together with article 2(4) is that the owner of an animal must indicate that he wishes to accept the standard rate before an animal is slaughtered otherwise an individual valuer will be appointed. No particular form is required for the indication. Paragraph 6 of the Ministry instructions provide that as soon as the decision to slaughter has been taken the owner must be immediately offered compensation at the standard values. The owner must also be told of the alternative arrangements should he not wish to accept the standard value. Usually, if the owner does not wish to accept the standard value, he will communicate that he wishes the Minister to appoint a valuer at this time. A specific time period for doing so is not specified in the Order as it is envisaged that the owner will notify MAFF at the earliest opportunity so as to avoid any delay in receiving compensation for his animals.

4. Under paragraph (9) slaughter can take place once the animals have been valued under paragraph (4). Article 2(4)(b) therefore has the effect of ensuring that the slaughter of animals is not delayed by the unwillingness of owners to express a choice as to which method of valuation he prefers.

5. Where a valuation has been given in accordance with article 2(4), article 2(7) provides inter alia that the owner may decide to accept the standard value or challenge the valuation by reference to an arbitrator.

    "(2)  Article 2(7) provides that, where the owner has given notice that he disputes the valuation, he may either (a) accept the standard value, or (b) ask for the question of value to be referred to arbitration. Within what period of time from the date of the notice must the owner choose either course and what is the position if he chooses neither course?"

6. Article 2(6) provides that if, within 14 days after the owner has received the valuation he has not given notice in writing that he disputes that valuation, he shall be deemed to have accepted that valuation.

7. Although a period of time within which the owner is required to choose either of the options set out at (2) above is not prescribed by the Order, it is, of course, in the owner's immediate interest to ensure that either procedure is initiated as soon as possible so that compensation can be paid without delay. In practice, when notice under 2(7) is received, the Ministry Instruction provides that the owner should be given an opportunity to accept the standard valuation. If this is not accepted the matter is then referred to an arbitrator appointed jointly by the Minister and the owner in accordance with article 2(7)(b). If the matter is referred to arbitration it is always possible that the arbitration proceedings could be settled on terms accepting the standard value.

    "(3)  Explain the purpose and effect of article 2(9), and verify the reference to "Schedule 3(1)" to the 1981 Act."

8. As explained above, the purpose and effect of article 2(9) is to ensure that slaughter is not delayed consequent on the owner immediately disputing any valuation. The issue has been arising in practice and needed to be clarified. The reference to Schedule 3(1) should be a reference to Schedule 3(3)(1). The Ministry apologises for this error but submits that the meaning and effect of the article are still clear. This error will be corrected at the earliest opportunity.

30 April 2001

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