Following recent media reporting, I am writing to clarify the facts in relation to the Voluntary Protective Costs Order agreed between the Department for the Economy (the Department) and the Renewable Heat Association Northern Ireland — (the Trade Association).
As readers may be aware, the department has made changes to the non-domestic Renewable Heat Incentive Scheme in the interests of protecting public funds.
This resulted in legal action being taken by the Trade Association.
The last judicial review was dismissed in December 2017 and is now being appealed by the Trade Association.
The department has therefore decided that it is in the public interest to reduce the taxpayer’s risk relating to litigation costs by reaching an agreement on litigation costs both for the high court proceedings and any onward appeals.
The department has not conceded its position as was reported in the News Letter (‘Surprising U-turn as department as RHI case abandoned,’ March 9) on the application of the 2013 Regulations or the Aarhus convention.
Rather, it has adopted a financially prudent step, which it considers to be in the public interest, by capping the amount of any potential liability.
The Voluntary Protective Costs Order puts the department in the best position to protect the taxpayer against becoming liable for the Trade Association’s potentially higher legal costs.
Richard Rodgers, RHI Taskforce, Department for the Economy