A legal challenge to BW’s revised Mooring Guidance for Continuous Cruisers is expected after BW rejected a “letter before claim” from boater Nick Brown. It is likely that Mr Brown will issue Judicial Review proceedings on the grounds that the revised guidance is ultra vires, in other words BW does not have the legal power to enforce it, and that it does not reflect the meaning intended by Parliament of Section 17 3 c ii of the 1995 British Waterways Act.
BW presented evidence to the Select Committee that drafted the Act in 1993 stating that the test for whether a boat without a home mooring was being used bona fide for navigation or not, was simply whether it had stayed for more than 14 continuous days in one place without a valid reason. The BW representative expanded on this by explaining that if the unreasonable overstaying was an isolated occurrence the boat would probably be considered to be complying with the law, but a pattern of persistent overstaying would mean that the licence may not be renewed.
BW had the opportunity to re-write the Mooring Guidance for Continuous Cruisers in line with the intention of Parliament in June this year but despite being urged to do so, the new Guidance for Boaters Without a Home Mooring does not reflect the intention of Parliament to protect boat dwellers from homelessness. Mr Brown is concerned that BW has failed to correct these defects and that boat dwellers who do comply with the 14-day rule will still be at risk of losing their homes.