I took up office in January 2010 and I am in the unusual position of reporting on a year overseen by my predecessor, Mr Brian Flynn, who retired on the last day of 2009. Mr Vincent Long, the Deputy Chief Appeals Officer, moved to another area of the Department earlier in the year. I would like to pay tribute to both Brian and Vincent for their contribution during 2009 and many other years.
Continuity has been achieved in the form of Mr Dan Kavanagh, the current Deputy Chief Appeals Officer, who took up his current position in February 2009.
2009 was and exceptionally difficult year. 25,963 appeals were registered in 2009 which was 46% higher than in 2008.
As the number of appeals increased substantially and a number of experienced Appeals Officers retired, this presented enormous challenges for the Office, the administration staff and the Appeals Officers. The number of appeals finalised was 13% higher than in 2008 (17,787 in 2009 compared with 15,724 in 2008) which is a tribute to all involved.
At the end of 2009 we had 16,008 appeals on hands. This is a challenge we have carried into 2010 and one which will be exacerbated by the continuing high levels of receipts.
There is no doubt this is the single biggest challenge ever faced by this Office.
Our primary concern is to minimise the effect on our customers in terms of waiting times. This is our major priority for 2010. Two additional Appeals Officerswere appointed in 2009 and five officers who retired were replaced. However, we must also create capacity by achieving a more effective throughput of appeals. Our objective is to achieve this in a way that does not undermine fair
procedure or conflict with due process in terms of the rights of appellants and adherence to the requirements of natural justice.
Finally, I would like to thank all the Appeals Officers and the administrative staff for their commitment and dedication in a very demanding environment.
Director and Chief Appeals Officer