The Environment Group undertakes all work in this field including prosecution and defence work in the criminal courts, statutory appeals, scientifically complex nuisance and personal injury claims, major group litigation and judicial review. Members have extensive experience of dealing with experts in technically complicated cases and of managing group litigation.
We regularly deal with abatement notices in the Magistrates’ Court in respect of noise, dust, smoke and odour and have also been concerned with prosecutions under section 82 of the Environmental Protection Act 1990.
We can advise on personal injury claims whether resulting from:
- Chemical exposure
- Land contamination
- Arsenic poisoning of groundwater
- Foot and mouth disease claims
- General allegations of injury from dust and odour.
Land contamination, whether from oil leaks from domestic storage tanks or chemicals from larger installations, gives rise to complex legal and technical issues. For example, if oil has leaked from a petrol station and is alleged to have contaminated land over a mile away, a pathway has to be established for the oil from the station to the land. The type of oil at the affected land has to be shown to be the same type as that used at the station at the time of the alleged leak. While this is mainly established through expert evidence, claimants and defendants need a barrister who can understand that evidence.
Fishing claims will concern property rights. While a defendant is very unlikely to establish a right to pollute a fishery, the basis of the claimant’s right to fish in the relevant waters will always be an issue in an action in respect of damage to the fishery. There may be a long-established right or the claimant may fish in the waters under a licence from the landowner that gives no right of action. Claims on the use of rights of navigation, such as damage caused by boat wash, may also involve land law issues.
Flooding has become a prominent issue. Claims for flood damage can involve the occurrence of the flood and property rights. For example the defendant may argue that there is an easement of drainage over the claimant’s land that means there is no liability for any flood damage. The case outcome may depend on a determination of whether the defendant has established the easement by prescription. Chambers can deal with such issues and advise as to the best way of resolving them.
Old Square Chambers has considerable experience in group litigation including a number of nuisance action cases for residents around waste disposal or other industrial facilities.
Nature conservation issues, whether bats roosting in a house to be redeveloped or the protection of water and other habitats, can have adverse consequences on plans and projects. Similarly, development can adversely affect habitats and species. Old Square Chambers can advise on these and other species protection issues.
Our barristers are experienced in private, public and statutory nuisance claims. Retired member Nigel Cooksley QC and John Bates appeared in Barr v. Biffa  EWHC 1003 (TCC) and John was also junior counsel in Dobson v. Thames Water Utilities Ltd  EWHC 3253 (TCC). David Wilby QC successfully acted for claimants in the Corby Group Litigation  EWHC 1944 (TCC), a case concerning public nuisance from reclamation works. Other nuisance cases have involved noise, dust, and odour. Nuisance claims involve the law of nuisance and technical evidence as to the causes and consequences of the problem. This can range from air dispersion modelling to noise level readings or, as in Dobson, the biology of mosquitoes. Establishing damage to crops resulting from flooding or air or water contamination can also be very complicated. We have the expertise to deal with these issues.
Old Square Chambers advises on planning issues as part of an environmental claim or on their own. Recently, work included a ten-day inquiry into an incineration facility, dealing with river barrages, housing developments, road issues, general enforcement notices and planning applications.
We have experience in both civil and criminal litigation in respect of waste issues whether dealing with the definition of ‘waste’, exemptions from permitting, the liabilities of an operator under an environmental permit or a landowner’s remedy where waste is dumped on the land.
Water abstraction issues include the rights of someone to abstract water from a watercourse or the ground. With experience of such issues, Old Square Chambers advises on parties’ rights and, if necessary, deals with those issues at an inquiry or in court. We can also advise on drought orders or drought permits where they may have a serious effect on businesses, fisheries or wildlife.