HSE to consult on new FFI disputes procedure ahead of court action
Thursday 9th February 2017
Introduced in 2012, the HSE's FFI scheme inspectors who find material breaches of regulations that fall short of warranting prosecution or enforcement notices are required to issue businesses with notices of contravention, which trigger invoices for the enforcement activity.
Businesses will be charged for all work, including any letters written, any notices drafted and issued, and any checks undertaken. Should the case end up in the courts, all of the HSE's work up to that point will be charged.
Appeals against FFI bills are first judged by the issuing inspector's manager but complainants can move to a second stage where the complaint is adjudicated by a three-person panel consisting of two HSE staff and an independent person. If the panel does not approve the appeal, the complainant must pay the costs of adjudication at £129 an hour.
OCS Group UK launched its application for a judicial review, in which the court rules on the fairness of an administrative action by a public body, after failing to overturn a decision on an FFI bill issued for its management of hand-arm vibration.
It argued the disputes panel does not have the independence required to fairly scrutinise the inspectors' decisions and its complaint will be heard at the High Court on 8 and 9 March.
The HSE, which says it has "always kept the dispute process under review", now plans to consult with stakeholders "with a view to making the process fully independent".