Canal & River Trust’s mooring guidance endorsed by the High Court

The Canal & River Trust welcomes the Judgment of Mrs Justice Cox DBE, issued in the High Court on 16 November 2012, which has fully endorsed the Trust’s 2011 Guidance For Boaters Without A Home Mooring as a correct interpretation of the law.

In her 26 page Judgment, which followed an earlier oral hearing, she confirmed that the Trust’s Guidance was a correct interpretation of the statutory provisions underlying the Guidance and refused permission for Nick Brown, a leading figure in the National Bargee Travellers Association, to have the Guidance judicially reviewed.

Mr Brown sought to challenge the Guidance as unlawful under a number of grounds and arguments, all of which Mrs Justice Cox rejected.

·On considering Mr Brown’s assertions that the Guidance misstates the correct legal interpretation of section 17(3)(c)(ii) of the British Waterways Act 1995, the Judge concluded that the interpretation of the statutory provision in the Guidance is correct.

·Noting that such argument relied on extensive reference to Minutes of the Select Committee considering the Bill that became the 1995 Act, she states “none of the comments relied on….amounts to a clear statement that the relevant statutory provision was intended to have the meaning for which the Claimant [Mr Brown] now contends” and that Mr Brown’s “suggestion …that these minutes represent “the crystallisation of the will of Parliament” is…erroneous.”

·Mr Brown’s argument that a good reason for not adhering to the ’14 day rule’ could include personal choice was, she stated, “unsustainable”.

·Mr Brown’s argument that the Guidance infringes rights under Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights were, the Judge stated, “misconceived” and that there was, in her judgment, “no arguable human rights point in the Claimant’s grounds.”

·Furthermore, Mr Brown’s “suggestion that choosing to live his life on a boat amounts to a genuine philosophical belief within the meaning of the Equality Act is, in my judgment, without merit”.

In confirming the earlier order of Mr Justice Eder that Mr Brown pay the Trust’s costs of £15,000, Mrs Justice Cox observed that “the high figure is clearly due to the extensive work carried out by those representing the Defendant [the Trust] in order to respond to the detailed grounds being advanced by the Claimant [Mr Brown] in substantial documentation.”

Nigel Johnson, legal director of the Canal & River Trust, comments: “It is very unusual for such a comprehensive written judgment to be given in a permission hearing and it is even more unusual for it to be given an official citation number – meaning it will be an officially reported case. It is a definitive and authoritative statement of the law that will be of great benefit to any future enforcement cases.”

The written judgment handed down by Mrs Justice Cox is available to view online at: http://canalrivertrust.org.uk/media/library/2257.pdf.

The Canal & River Trust’s Guidance For Boaters Without A Home Mooring is available to view online at: http://canalrivertrust.org.uk/media/library/633.pdf

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