Kangs Solicitors recently represented a client who was prosecuted under the Environmental Permitting (England and Wales) Regulations 2010 (‘the Regulations’) despite the fact that he was unaware of the activity leading to the Prosecution.
John Veale of Kangs Solicitors explains the circumstances, outlines the trial preparatory work conducted on behalf of the client and the outcome.
Events Leading to the Prosecution | Kangs Criminal Defence Solicitors
Whilst working on a site in the Black Country, running an aggregates business, our client negotiated with the landlord of the site to take over a waste management operation that was already present on the site.
Whilst investigating the possibility of conducting the business through a new company and seeking the appropriate operating permit, he was persuaded by the landlord that it would be easier for him to be appointed as a director of the existing company that held the operating permit.
Having become the director of the company, it transpired it had not been operating the waste management station in accordance with the permit which had been revoked.
At that time our client decided, in any event, to cease his existing operation on the site and he simply gave no further thought to the other company for which he had signed to become a director.
Having no reason to do so, he did not visit the site again until he was advised by the EA that operations had continued on the site, affecting the company in respect of which he had been persuaded to become a director, and that several hundred tonnes of waste had been tipped on it.
The Allegations | Solicitors For The Waste Management Industry
Following interview under caution by the EA and, despite being unaware of the continuing operation on the site, our client was charged under the Regulations that his company had:
- operated a regulated facility by depositing and storing waste which was not authorised by an environmental permit and that this offence was attributable to his neglect and
- Failed to comply with a Notice requiring the removal of the waste and this was attributable to his neglect.
Dealing With This Case | Kangs Environment Agency Solicitors
Points requiring consideration:
- For liability to be established, it was sufficient for the EA to show that our client was a registered director of the defaulting company.
- The offences with which our client was charged could have been dealt with:
- in a Crown Court where a prison sentence of up to five years and an unlimited fine could have been imposed or
- in a Magistrates’ Court where the maximum prison sentence that could have been imposed was six months and a fine limited to £50,000.
- The EA had indicated that the charges may have been increased to the more serious offences of acting deliberately or recklessly, rather than negligently, having regard to the fact that he was already carrying out a permitted operation on the same site.
Advice given and action taken:
- As the EA could clearly show that our client was a director of the offending company, and therefore clearly culpable, the advantages of an early guilty plea were explained
- In view of the substantial differences in the levels of sentencing, explained above, and in order to avoid the possibility of Proceeds of Crime Act being invoked in the Crown Court, it was clearly desirable to try and retain the matter in the Magistrates’ Court
- A detailed plea in mitigation was prepared explaining to the Court how our client had become a director of the defaulting company, his very limited involvement with it and his ignorance of the activity on the site, even though he was registered as a director.
The Outcome | Kangs Environmental Crime Team
- Having considered the detailed mitigation put to the Magistrates, they agreed that the matter should properly be dealt with before them rather than passing it up to the Crown Court for sentencing.
- A three figure fine was imposed in respect of each count.
Whilst, inevitably, our client had to pay costs and has been disqualified from acting as a director of any company for a period of five years, matters could have been more serious in the Crown Court where he could have faced:
- Far higher fines
- A sentence of imprisonment
- Confiscation proceedings which may have imposed a substantial financial burden upon him.
Naturally, our client was extremely grateful for the outcome that Kangs Solicitors had achieved for him.
How Can We Help You? | Kangs Environmental Solicitors
At Kangs Solicitors, we have a specialised team with a wealth of experience in dealing with all aspects of environmental issues of every nature.
We have a proven track record in dealing with the above matters and we welcome you contacting our team of solicitors through either of the following, who will be happy to discuss your situation with you.