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Planning Law Solicitors

Planning Inspectorate Reinstates Compensation Scheme for Costs Caused by its Errors

August 31st, 2012 by Louise Humphreys

Posted In: Planning

The Planning Inspectorate has reintroduced an ex gratia compensation scheme for costs caused by its errors, including the redetermination of appeals following High Court challenges.

The practice of making ex gratia payments was well-known within the planning system although not publicised until 2009. This system was ended in April 2011 without announcement or consultation (merely removing references from Good Practice Advice Note 15 Challenges and complaints) with the Inspectorate later saying it would rely on the Parliamentary Ombudsman to settle claims.

This change prompted two judicial reviews over the costs of redetermining appeals where decisions had been quashed by the Courts prior to April 2011: R (Koumis) v Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government and R (Payne) v Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government. Both cases were ultimately settled with the Inspectorate paying those parties' costs of redetermination. The Parliamentary Ombudsman was also critical of the Inspectorate's approach to compensation.

The August 2012 version of Good Practice Advice Note 15 now says (at paragraph 24):

"Where maladministration or an error by the Planning Inspectorate has led to injustice or hardship, we will try to offer a remedy that returns the complainant to the position they would have been in otherwise. If that is not possible, the Planning Inspectorate will provide compensation for unnecessary expense incurred as a result of an acknowledged error where there are compelling reasons to do so."

The Inspectorate promise to "consider carefully complaints and requests for financial compensation received within 6 months of the date of the error or of any subsequent appeal decision by us related to that error."