Northamptonshire farmer Trevor Foss has been elected the new chairman of the NFU legal board.Mr Foss, who runs a mixed farm of around 200 acres and writes for NFU Countryside Magazine, was previously vice chairman and replaces Fred Gooder who has stepped down after 13 years.Tim Sell from Essex was elected vice chairman of the board.Mr Foss said: “I am very proud to have taken on the role as chairman - Fred Gooder will be a very difficult act to follow. I would also like to pay tribute to David Roston, Simon Wadlow and David Jones who also stepped down after many years on the board.
“The Legal Assistance Scheme (LAS) provides vital support for thousands of NFU members every year who need specialist legal advice. Through Fred’s work and endeavour the scheme is now strong financially and is able to support members with many different and difficult cases while also dealing with national issues such as bovine TB, HS2 and flooding.
“I look forward to the challenge and working with my fellow board members and NFU staff.”
The legal board is responsible for ensuring overall budgetary control of and for the allocation of the LAS Fund in group actions, cases of national importance, cases of oppression, as well as cases requiring funds in excess of £10,000 in line with its operating protocols. The LAS makes awards in excess of £1 million each year towards professional fees incurred by applicants with almost 90 per cent of NFU farmer and grower members subscribing to it. Underpinning the Scheme are considerable financial reserves. Support is available for a wide range of disputes including contract, tenancy, employment, professional negligence, judicial reviews, planning appeals, Trading Standards, Health and Safety Executive and Environment Agency investigations and prosecutions.
In addition to its core function of supporting individual subscribers, the LAS has supported and offered financial assistance to a number of group cases including Producer Organisations, GLA/Defra/CPS Prosecution of Dairy Farmers, Ritz Oil Seed Rape, Red Diesel, polytunnels, poultry cases and various planning appeals. The scheme is currently dealing with a number of topical issues such as bTB, interest rate swaps, flooding and flood defence cases, tenancy matters, mediation for inter-member disputes and tenants’ first advice service.