Significant Win in Environment Case

Andrew Thomas Q.C. and Alistair Webster Q.C., leading Samantha Riggs of Bedford Row and instructed by Kathryn Lucas of The Environment Practice, have secured a significant series of acquittals in a case brought by the Environment Agency against the Allensway group of companies.  Determined and persistent applications for disclosure led to an application for a stay based on abuse of process, faced with which the Agency offered no evidence.

Earlier, orders made without notice restraining all of the assets of the companies and their owner had been successfully challenged, with major assets being unfrozen, enabling the companies to continue to trade.

The companies had faced a whole raft of allegations relating to waste and compost processes, with the EA alleging avoided costs of many millions.

Alistair comments: “I was brought in initially to deal with the restraint orders.  When we were able to demonstrate serious failings in the application, and the process adopted by the EA, the judge made clear his serious concern as to the whole process of the obtaining of the orders.  Thus enabled us to unblock assets which were important for the companies.  In my experience, orders made ex parte, whether restraint orders or search / arrest warrants, are often defective, or based upon misleading or incomplete information.  Their effects upon businesses and individuals can be absolutely catastrophic, with the banks quickly withdrawing facilities, credit lines and so forth.  This case illustrates the need for a strong pro-active strategy.  Andrew and I were lucky to have the assistance of junior counsel and solicitors whose specialised knowledge of waste and recycling enabled us to focus on the acute parts of the case.”

The success in the criminal proceedings followed on from the earlier success in the Court of Appeal, who ruled that the warrants obtained by the EA had been unlawfully executed. (Reported at (2016) 1 WLR 1903).