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Frequently Asked Questions

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What is the NI Health and Safety Tribunal (NIHAST)?

The Northern Ireland Health and Safety Tribunal (NIHAST) is an independent tribunal set up within the Northern Ireland Courts and Tribunal Service to consider and determine appeals against decisions made by the licensing authority for petroleum or asbestos control.

What does it do?

NIHAST has been established to adjudicate upon disputes between members of the public, private bodies and the Health and Safety Executive for Northern Ireland (H&SENI). The disputes arise out of two main areas:

  • Where the appellant has had a disputed action, issued under the Petroleum (Consolidation) Act 1929 as amended; or
  • Where the appellant has had a disputed action, issued under the Control of Asbestos Regulations (NI) 2007 as amended.

How is the Tribunal made up?

NIHAST consists of Chairmen, (solicitors/barristers of at least 7 years’ standing), members with specialist experience in the fields of asbestos and petroleum and ordinary members. A panel, consisting of one of each, will sit as the Tribunal. A legal Registrar is also appointed with certain case management powers.

How do I appeal?

At this stage you will have disputed the licence decision with H&SENI, received a Notice of Final Decision and a blank appeal form. You should complete the appeal form in full and send it to the address on the back of the form. Please ensure that you read the form carefully and complete it in full. Forms that are incomplete will be returned and this may affect your time limit in which to appeal. You must send the appeal form to the Registrar so that it is received not later than the end of a period of 28 days, beginning with the date on which the disputed action is taken.

What happens if my appeal is late?

If you wish to appeal, but are outside the 28 day lodgement period, you can still submit your appeal. You should complete the appropriate portion of the appeal form, applying for an extension of time by stating the reason/s why the appeal is late.

The Registrar will first consider whether to allow an extension of time to accept the lodgement of the appeal. If successful, your appeal will then be listed for hearing at the next tribunal sitting; if refused, you will be notified accordingly.

What happens next?

Once the appeal is lodged, the Tribunal will write to you confirming receipt. You will have 28 days from the date you sent the appeal form to send in any further representations, but you are strongly advised to send all paperwork you are relying on with your appeal form to avoid delay. If you indicate you wish your case dealt with by way of postal application, your case will be listed for the next available Tribunal. If you wish to attend, you will be notified of your date of hearing.  You should confirm your attendance at this stage and also ensure that you have submitted all representations and additional material to the Tribunal; late submission may result in your case being adjourned.

You should be aware of the following before you attend your hearing:

  • You must inform the Tribunal whether or not you intend to appear or be represented at the appeal hearing, no less than 14 days from the date of hearing.
  • If you do not wish to attend, you or the H&SENI may submit further representations before the date of the hearing.
  • You must bring with you all the documents and evidence relied upon, to ensure you can present your case properly and can respond to any questions the Tribunal may have.
  • You may call witnesses at your own expense and in certain circumstances request the Tribunal to issue you with a summons to compel a witness to attend.
  • You have the right to be represented or assisted in a hearing. You should notify the Tribunal immediately if you decide to appoint a representative.
  • You will receive your determination, and reasons for the determination, in writing from the Tribunal.
  • The Tribunal can make an order for costs against you or the H&SENI. Where an appellant has been informed by the Registrar of the Tribunal that the appeal is unlikely to succeed and the appellant still wishes to continue, costs will normally be awarded against the appellant if the appeal is unsuccessful. The awarding of costs will be a matter for the Tribunal on the particular circumstances of each appeal.
  • You have the right to appeal to the High Court, on a point of law, if you are not satisfied with the Tribunal’s decision, within a period of 3 months from the date of decision.

What happens at my hearing?

A panel consisting of 3 members (unless otherwise constituted) will form the Tribunal. A representative from the H&SENI is entitled to attend. The panel will have received all of the submitted papers in the appeal and you, or your representative, will be given the opportunity to state your appeal case. The Tribunal members will direct proceedings and ask questions of the parties to clarify or investigate issues that may arise.

At the end of the hearing the Tribunal may announce its decision immediately; however, it will notify all parties of its decision and will issue a statement of reasons as soon as possible thereafter.

Interim Orders

The lodging of an appeal does not suspend the enforcement action taken by H&SENI. If you wish an action to be suspended during the term of your appeal you must apply to the Chairman of the Tribunal for an interim order. This means that with your appeal, or as soon as possible thereafter, you should detail the reasons for your application and send all relevant documentation to the Registrar of the Tribunal and formally request an interim order. You will then be contacted by the Tribunal to deal with the matter before your appeal hearing is listed.

Checklist

Please ensure that you have fulfilled the requirements of the following checklist before submitting an appeal form.

  • You have enclosed details of your representative/s in the matter and have indicated whether you want the Tribunal to send all further documentation to them.
  • You have indicated that you wish/do not wish to attend at the hearing.
  • You have filled in all remaining relevant sections of the appeal form, dating and signing it where appropriate.
  • You have attached a copy of the Notice of Final Decision sent by the H&SENI.
  • You have attached all notices issued by the H&SENI relating to this matter.
  • You have enclosed the original and three copies of all other documentation on which you may wish to rely.