Small firms 'still owed' 2001 FMD compensation
Some of the small businesses affected by the 2001 outbreak of foot and mouth disease are still awaiting compensation payments, a business lobby group has warned.
England has again been hit by the disease in recent weeks, although it appears to have been contained on a small number of sites within close proximity to each other.
Following the latest scare, the Forum of Private Business (FPB) has welcomed the way Defra reacted to the recent problems, but remains critical of the ongoing disputes over 2001 compensation.
"Some of our members are still having to take legal action against Defra to recover monies invoiced against contract terms agreed six years ago," said Paul Gregory, the FPB's adviser on late payments.
"Any contractor or farmer undertaking work in relation to the present outbreak should exercise care in ensuring clarity in their dealings with Defra," added solicitor Peter McLoughlin.
"Unless they do so and obtain clear agreement and certainty on what they are being asked to do, they may run a similar risk in being involved in protracted disputes many years down the line."
The organisation also claims that some small firms had to agree to compensation amounts lower than they claimed because they could not afford the legal fees to dispute the level of award.
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