Sunday, August 30, 2015

Beware of the Rise of the Dubious Fisheries Consultant!

As we approach the possible commencement of the 2015/2016 fishing rights allocation process, Feike has been approached by a number of current right holders and potential new entrant applicants / investors wanting advice on preparatory steps that they should take in anticipation of the next fishing rights allocation process.

We have also been made aware of a number of "consultants" emerging to provide advice on completion of future application forms. The rate at which these "consultants" will emerge will surely gather momentum once greater clarity and certainty is available regarding the 2015/2016 rights allocation process.

As has been the case with past fishing rights allocation processes, Feike does not assist with the completion of forms and neither do we advise individual applicants on preparatory steps and measures. In deserving cases, we may provide legal and fisheries advice on a pro bono basis.

Accordingly, we can dispense the following advice without being concerned about slating potential "competitors".

Firstly, if a consultant is required to assist with the completion of the form or part of the form, check the history and track record of the consultant concerned. Do not use "new" consultants or those who have no track record and experience in the fisheries sector.

Secondly, before you agree to use the consultant's services, first check if they had assisted applicants during previous right allocation processes and how successful they were. Don't take their word for it. Contact the right holders concerned and confirm this and check if they will be using the same consultant again.

Thirdly, agree a fee in advance and reduce the appointment to writing specifying the services to be provided and deadlines to be achieved. Make sure that a failure to meet a deadline will result in a financial penalty to be deducted from the consultant's final payment. This is important as there has been a history of consultants using these processes to earn substantial fees but who take on too many clients. They are then unable to satisfactorily complete the application form ... or worse, they fail to submit the forms on time, resulting in the application being excluded.

Fourthly, if a consultant is appointed to prepare your application form, make sure that they are contracted to provide you with the final draft version at least 72 hours before the gazetted application deadline date and time to allow yourself to carefully scrutinise the information in the form and to obtain any additional information and data.

Finally, do not pay the full agreed fee upfront. Agree to make payments only upon the attainment of agreed milestones.

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