Paul Davies v British Waterways

Well the judgement is made, published on 31st March 2011.

We are still waiting to see the full judgement so our ability to make informed comment is limited to the two press releases in the two previous posts. The first is prepared by the National Bargee Traveller’s Association and edited by Paul, the second is from the British Waterways website.

There is already a huge amount of speculation about what this means in practice, understandably so as it affects so many people’s lives and chosen lifestyles. There seems to be very little point in drawing any conclusions until the judgement is public, whereas it is already in the public domain it will take a while before it becomes accessible to all.

In the meantime you can read the two press releases.

There are a few facts that seem to be emerging;

One is that BW have asked for an injunction to get Paul to remove his boat within three months. BW state that they have this injunction, Paul says that there is an extra process and asks us to make no comments about the judge as the future of his home is in the judge’s hands.

The second is that the additional statement in BW’s statement that the judgement applies to lower courts is wrong – well maybe not wrong but there are no lower civil courts than the County Court. The judgement does not apply to any other case and the judge has stated that any other Section 8 notice must be accompanied by an opportunity for the boat owner to defend themselves in court.

The third is that BW will have to rewrite the contentious “Moorings Guidance to Continuous Cruisers”. We can only hope that part of this will be to drop the horrible expression “Continuous Cruisers” giving, as it does, the impression of the Flying Dutchman, cruising the canals with no cessation or peace.

We will examine the ruling as soon as we possibly can.

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3 Responses to “Paul Davies v British Waterways”

  1. paul biddy MonsterID Icon paul biddy says:

    Articles 8, 14 and 1.1 were properly considered throughout proceedings and pinnock and horrie (in the supreme and european courts) both set a very difficult standard to clear. There rulings are certainly appealale when the time is right. The Bargee’s press release is inaccurate in numerous places

  2. Panda MonsterID Icon Panda says:

    I was present at the court case in September and took verbatim notes of the proceedings. My notes show that when Paul’s barrister, Martin Westgate QC asked Nigel Johnson, BW’s Corporate Services and Legal Director the question “What about a private boat taken out for an hour at weekend, for a spot of fishing or a picnic, and back to the same place?”

    Nigel Johnson replied “I’d call that navigating”

    Martin Westgate asked “That is bona fide navigating?”

    Nigel Johnson replied “Yes”.

    That should be taken as an indication of BW’s policy (it’s not a statement of the law and indeed, Mr Johnson didn’t know the answers to many other questions put to him about the law and related matters). As the judgement was made in a County Court, it does not create a formal legal precedent. A County Court judgement is not binding on any other courts; not even on other County Court cases. The County Court is the lowest level of civil court. BW appears intent on misleading boaters into believing that the judgement creates a formal precedent. It does not. However, if a county court judgement is properly argued and makes sense (which remains to be seen), it would be persuasive on other judges.

  3. Paul Biddy MonsterID Icon Paul Biddy says:

    Agreed. The judgment upheld the declaration (section 8). BW requested removal within 28 days, but the judgment included 3 months and liberty to remedy the default – cruise further, buy an expensive mooring with no services or facilities, sell up and become homeless. For the record, I’ve now reached the point at which compliance seems a very reasonable option for me!

    While all judgments are certainly appealable, I currently have no plans to appeal to a higher court, although I think this remains a serious option for future litigations brought by bw against others.

    Off to work now – and the very act itself makes me illegally present on the cut. Tis the rub.