Legal

Breaking: Anti-fracking campaigners win appeal against Ineos protest injunction

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Joe Corre outside the Royal Courts of Justice in London after the ruling against the Ineos injunction, 3 April 2019. Photo: DrillOrDrop

Anti-fracking campaigns have won a legal challenge to an injunction granted to the shale gas company, Ineos Upstream.

Three law lords this morning granted an appeal brought by Joe Corre and Joe Boyd.

In a reserved judgement, Lord Justice Longmore, Lord Justice David Richards and Lord Justice Leggatt ruled that sections of the injunction, first granted in July 2017, were unlawful.

The case could have implications for similar, injunctions granted to four more oil and gas companies.

The original injunction prevented “persons unknown” from trespassing on or obstructing access to eight shale gas sites and company offices. It also prohibits people from combining together to commit unlawful acts “with the intention of damaging” Ineos or any other companies in its supply chain.

Today, the court of appeal struck out the sections applying to protests on the public highway, including slow walking protests, climbing on to vehicles and blocking the road. It also removed the section on protests against the supply chain.

The ruling said:

“The concept of slow walking in front of vehicles or, more generally, obstructing the highway may not result in any damage to the claimants at all” .

It questioned the lack of precision in the prohibition of slow walking, asking

“how slow is slow? Any speed slower than a normal walking speed of two miles per hour? One does not know”,

It concluded:

“A person faced with such an injunction may well be chilled into not obstructing the highway at all.”

The ruling said the High Court order was “both too wide and insufficiently clear”. It said:

“The citizen’s right of protest is not to be diminished by advance fear of committal except in the clearest of cases.”

The sections on trespass and private rights of way were maintained in the injunction for the time being. But the law lords ruled that the High Court had applied the wrong test in approving this part of the order. The ruling said there was no time limit on the order and this was unsatisfactory. It added:

“The [High Court] judge has held that the threat of trespass is imminent and real but he has given little or no consideration … to the question whether that is likely to be established at trial.”

Ineos was ordered to go back to the High Court so that these sections could be assessed against the Human Rights Act.

The law lords did not accept the campaigners’ arguments that the injunction should not have been brought against “persons unknown”.

Campaigners’ reaction

Outside the court, Joe Corre said:

“Ineos painted ordinary people as dangerous fanatics. This result has restored my faith in the justice system. I was always appalled that Ineos was able to bring this case in a secret court.

“It shows they cannot pick on ordinary people because we will stand up and defend ourselves.”

Referring to a new Ineos motto (I came, I bought, I conquered), Mr Corre said

“Ineos tried to buy the law and they lost. They have not conquered anything.”

Joe Boyd said:

“We are delighted. This has been a campaign about people power.”

He paid tribute to the legal teams and barristers who took the case for “their approach to human rights, with freedom of expressions at the heart of all arguments, and those who have faith in me as the rights of a person to act freely under consciousness.” Mr Boyd dedicated his win to the campaigner, Polly Higgins.

Rosa Curling, solicitor at the law firm, Leigh Day, which represented Mr Boyd, said:

“Our client is delighted with his victory in the Court of Appeal today. The pre-emptive injunctions ordered by the High Court were unprecedented in their scope and undermined the protections of civil liberties and human rights in the UK. The rights to freedom of expression and peaceful protest are crucial in any democracy. That includes unruly, potentially disruptive protests.

“Turning point”

Friends of the Earth, which intervened in this case, said the decision marked a turning point in the use of injunctions against fracking protests.

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Katie de Kauwe, in-house lawyer at Friends of the Earth, outside the Royal Courts of Justice after the ruling against the Ineos injunction, 3 April 2019. Photo: DrillOrDrop

The organisation’s in-house lawyer, Katie de Kauwe, said:

“This is a massive victory for civil liberties and human rights across the country.

“It has knocked the teeth out of the Ineos injunction restraining what it called unlawful protest.

“Its impact will also extend to the injunctions obtained by other fracking companies.”

“Friends of the Earth is so proud to have been part of this legal action.”

Dave Timms, head of political affairs at Friends of the Earth, said:

“This is a humiliating defeat for INEOS and a victory for campaigners and human rights. We believe that these injunctions are a sinister attempt to use the law to stop peaceful protest against the fracking industry. The ruling today confirms our view that INEOS’ injunction was wrongly granted and unlawfully stifled protest. Wherever fracking is attempted it meets fierce resistance by local communities. The Court of Appeal today stood up for their right to peaceful protest and free speech.”

Friends of the Earth said it would now write to other firms granted similar anti-protest injunctions informing them that they should withdraw or substantially amend them or face possible legal action.”

Stephanie Harrison QC, who represented Mr Corre, said:

“Today’s judgement recognises the serious chilling effect of the INEOS injunction on civil liberties, particularly the broad, sweeping terms of the injunction against wide categories of persons unknown.

“The outcome of this case serves to underline the importance of the Human Rights Act 1998 as a safeguard for fundamental freedoms like free speech and the right to protest. These rights are the life blood of our democracy. This judgement makes clear that the Court will intervene to prevent powerful companies like INEOS using draconian injunctions to intimidate and deter people from participating in lawful protest against fracking, which is widely seen by campaigners and local people affected to be dangerous and damaging to the environment and their communities.”

Ineos statement

Ineos chief operations officer, Tom Pickering, said in a statement:

“We welcome the Court of Appeal’s decision to uphold our injunctions protecting people on and around our sites. We only secured these injunctions because we are determined to project our people and suppliers, as well as the communities we work in. We are talking with our legal team about our next steps, because we believe it is essential that the forces of law-and-order prevail.”

He added:

“We will always do all we can to protect our colleagues, suppliers and peaceful, law-abiding local people. We respect peaceful protest, but we must stand up to the militants who game the legal system with intimidation and mob rule. We stand for jobs and opportunity. They stand for anarchy in the UK.”

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Notice of injunction at proposed shale gas site at Woodsetts, south Yorkshire. Photo: DrillOrDrop

Background

Ineos had argued that the injunction was necessary to protect the locations against what it said was “a real threat of interference from protests”. The company denied it prevented the peaceful right to protest.

But at a court hearing last month, Mr Boyd and Mr Corre argued that the terms of the injunction unlawfully breached human rights.

They said the injunction was “unprecedented, wide-ranging, unclear, unfair and based on exaggeration and untested evidence”.

Heather Williams QC, barrister for Mr Boyd, described the injunction as “novel, uncertain, unnecessary and disproportionate”

She said it exposed

“a significant number of people to serious penalties for freedom of speech and protest-related activities and is already having a serous chilling effect.”

She said Mr Justice Morgan, the High Court judge who granted the injunction, had failed to distinguish between lawful freedom of expression and assembly, protected under the Human Rights Act, and unlawful activities. He also failed to acknowledge that the evidence had been disputed at an earlier challenge to the injunction, she said.

Stephanie Harrison QC, for Mr Corre, said of the injunction:

“It is having an impermissible and severe chilling effect on the right to free speech and to protest. It is an unlawful interference with those rights.”

She said the injunction had been used as a template for similar orders granted to four other oil and gas companies,:Cuadrilla, IGas, UK Oil & Gas and Angus Energy.

Alan Maclean QC, for Ineos, said the injunction followed legal precedence and “contains no error of law”. He said the conclusions of Mr Justice Morgan were “not impeachable on appeal”.

He said:

“There is no violence done to the rules. No injustice has been done to any individual.”

Mr Boyd and Mr Corre both brought appeals against the use of “persons unknown”. Mr Boyd also appealed on the grounds that the injunction should not outlaw protests against Ineos’ supply chain and Mr Justice Morgan had failed to assess Ineos evidence in the light of the Human Rights Act.

  • DrillOrDrop reports on the Court of Appeal case here and here

Reporting from the hearings and the ruling has been made possible by individual donations from DrillOrDrop readers.

43 replies »

  1. Well that’s great news for ‘pro’ and ‘anti’ frackers alike – for everyone who values ‘the protections of civil liberties and human rights in the UK’.
    The rights to freedom of expression and peaceful protest which are crucial in any democracy 😁

    • Colingong

      Indeed, rights to apply to anything we do, or do not agree with.

      I am keen to see the definitive description of a ‘slow walk’ in law, in the context of protesting ( rather than any slow walk one may take on a public highway ).

  2. Congratulations to Joe Boyd , Heather Williams and the outstanding team at Leigh Day for their successful defence of our right to non-violent direct action and peaceful protest against the anti-democratic pursuit of greed by the tax-exile “richest man in Britain “.
    Thank you Ruth for your energetic and effective work to report so quickly on this landmark ruling and all the court hearings leading up to it.

  3. Judith Green thanks for my best chuckle of the day so far (you never disappoint do you 😁)

    Ineos injunction is dismissed as unlawful and smashed to pieces. It’s clearly another nail hammered very firmly in to the coffin of fracking in the UK, and yet there goes Judith, trying to spin it as a ‘positive’ 👍😁😂🤣

    • Except it isn’t is it, colingong. It is amended. It may be amended some more. So, there goes colingong trying to falsify the result.

      • ‘ …. Lord Justice Longmore, Lord Justice David Richards and Lord Justice Leggatt ruled that sections of the injunction, first granted in July 2017, were unlawful’.
        (i.e. the most important sections 🙂).

        So just some insignificant ‘amendments’ eh Martin?

        #gameoverforfrackinguk

        • Martin doesn’t know how to back down when things don’t go his way so he has to rely on **** ive self moderated the word but you get the point

        • Amended (the clue is sections.) You could have just agreed that was the situation without the rest. Or, better still, you could have followed Total Quality Management-and practised Right First Time-and then not needed to enter into the Price of Non Conformance.

          Or, you can become over excited like Jono.

          Either way, the facts remain the same.

  4. The end is in sight, bring it on, so much for injunctions stopping lawful protest, i guess it is a case of who laughs last. Happy days ahead.

  5. Well this is certainly one in the eye for Ineos, and hopefully the other O&G companies who try to silence or inhibit our lawful right to protest . Great work Joe Corre, Joe Boyd Friends of the Earth and their legal teams . Happy days!

  6. It’s not the big halulabalulah the antis and multi-millionaire Joe Corre are trying to portray. The reasons the judges have cited can be addressed and rectified.
    East Midlands looks to be the place where reserves are sufficient enough to get fracking started properly.
    You will see a move to the right due to the handling of Brexit. This will ultimately play into the hands of pro capitalists such as myself and ultimately restrictive planning laws will be reviewed.
    I do laugh when I see people such as Joe pretend he is down with the ‘people’.

    • You just make me laugh GBK i don’t know how you can take this decision any other way than defeat for all those who have tried to stop lawful protest. All companies trying to use the same tactics nkw find themselves royally fracked. Game on i think.

    • Dear me! Speak of the vril and….hey presto!

      Welcome back old thing! We missed you….uhh, we did miss you, didnt we? Maybe just a little bit? Perhaps you never left, or right, if you see what i mean?

      What this decision represents GottaB…awww, like old times….old thing, is that the ineos injunction that was based upon this legal ruling is now de-legitimised and will have to be removed pending further clarification.

      That will now have to allow for legal rights of public protest that since this case, and indeed was always originally irreversibly enshrined in UK law but suffered an attempt to overturn it.

      Now that is interesting since all the arrests that were so joyfully shouted from the rooftops on Drill or Drop, are no longer legal and may result in further cases for compensation and removal of criminal charges.

      Not only that, all the present injunctions that were tagged on to the Ineos secret court injunction are also no longer legal and will all have to be re-evalued and any illegal arrests and court cases will also have to be allowed to re-establish the law in its correct form and sought for compensation.

      What is interesting about that is that all “persons unknown” are potential claimants, and that applies to everyone.

      Now there is no legal doubt about the rights to protest, and the Human Rights issues will be further explored in future court rulings.

      And far from a move to the right or left, up or down, what will and all ready have seen in the present brexit fiasco, is that many people are now fully awake to how deeply flawed and divided and dysfunctional the entire socio political edifice had become. And that means it must be changed and returned to the legal right of habeas corpus and beyond.

      It will be individual peoples rights and freedoms to act within their consciences that will be fought for a won, bit by bit, little by little, because that is the only intelligent human way forward, we have had enough of dictatorial overbearing stultifying inertia and its recidivist activists supporters.

  7. It would be nice to think that rulings such as this might indeed herald the end of fracking in the UK and eventually anywhere. In a sad world this does at last offer a glimmer of hope that money and the desire for more will not for ever hold sway over common sense, the desire to further the common good, interpretation of the law, the democratic ideal.
    Thank you again Ruth for your devotion to the cause of truth and justice.

  8. Yet more money wasted on courts time, One Pound in One Pound out,
    The Original Injunctions were deemed “too wide and insufficiently unclear”. As to this been legally unlawful, but like an unlawful injunction there are and sure to be amendments. These learnings will be reviewed and acted up-on, the Lawyers will have their time in court again, as that is what they do, and hope significant actions for the highly regulated and experienced industry to finally get going.

    In a reserved judgement, Lord Justice Longmore, Lord Justice David Richards and Lord Justice Leggatt ruled that sections of the injunction, first granted in July 2017, were unlawful. Which I can understand, as this will now be challenged by the Industry, Industrialists, Capitalists, Land Owners and Tax Payers.

    The original injunction prevented “persons unknown” from trespassing on or obstructing access to eight shale gas sites and company offices. It also prohibits people from combining together to commit unlawful acts “with the intention of damaging” Ineos or any other companies in its supply chain. You cannot injunct unknown persons, that being a dog walker, protester or an individual out for a stroll. But if Lorry Surfing, Slow Walking, (although a law firm deems it legal, is morally wrong)., impeding access to a site and obstructing ongoing operations, brings in the requirements of the police, where they are in the ‘potential’ position of abuse, harassment and ‘potential’ personal attacks while in the line of duty, one of the main aims of a protester is to 1. shut down the operations, ‘potentially’ with companies being harassed, phoned and given negative reviews when being associated with supporting the industry, and 2. bringing said companies to the brink of financial ruin so they cease trading or move off these operations. That is not in the energy needs of the country and the game is not over.

    The Game is just another Roll of the Dice..

    • So, Eli Goth, That is not in the energy needs of the country eh? What has a brand new fossil fuel industry got to do with energy needs of this country, unless you completely ignore the stark reality of climate change and produce a new supply of co2 and methane leaks. Strange how pro frackers close their minds to that fact. Is it based on ignorance, or merely the opportunity for short term money making? The energy needs of this and every other country must depend on renewables to replace fossil fuels. Of course, if your energy policy is sufficiently dysfunctional, there’s hugely expensive and problematic nuclear too, before even considering future decommissioning and nuclear storage and treatment costs. I see we’re not even capable of decommissioning our nuclear subs, never mind whole power stations.

      • Mike, pro-frackers to not close their minds to climate change. We simply look at the fact of how much gas we will have to import over the next 20 years and think that it’s better we produce our own. What makes you think we will use less gas if we buy it off another country?

        • You clearly close your minds to the timelines if you’re talking about 20 years. The rest of your argument is total nonsense if we take heed of the genuine climate experts, as opposed to those paid/funded by the O&G industry to deny and obfuscate. The forthcoming CCC report in May should be enlightening and actionable in law – unless you think it’s just something the CCC isn’t expert at and that you and your expertise know better? https://www.theccc.org.uk/2019/03/19/chris-stark-towards-net-zero/?fbclid=IwAR1XzfUMDC-rc3T2ULjgGyhUOiFI-meuGdWIEdvQvZuaZb7Uk0ng08LHqLc

          • Mike – thanks for confirming that we wouldn’t use less gas by buying it off another country. So the only reason you must be against fracking is that you don’t like it in your backyard.

            • What a bizarre assumption to make from that brief conversation. Anyway, thanks for confirming that you have clearly closed your mind to the timeline of climate change, how imminent it is (i.e. happening right now) and how we need to dramatically cut greenhouse gases to deal with it. Is this through congnitive or financial dissonance?

  9. Wonder how the AJ Lucas share price will react to this?

    Can it actually reach a negative value or does it just disappear from the trading floor?

    • Peter KR

      Igas up 3%, but I am sure that it is meaningless compared to news of

      1. A Labour Victory
      2. Tightening of the traffic light rules.

      Shares disappear when a company goes bust or ‘rescued’. Keep an eye on Debenhams, or try to buy Wolf Mining shares ( or Carillion..Johnstone Press, Jarvis, Polly Peck etc etc )

    • Thought this was INEOS, Peter!

      Maybe Sir Jim will react by giving less money to good causes. I’m sure you can do a bit of crowd funding and make up the £hundreds of millions. LOL

      • If Ratcliffe does indeed react in this manner, Martin, then at least his real motivation will be clear to all.

      • Sir Jim’s concern for his fellow man would be more credible if he and his cronies were not moving to Monaco in order to save the many millions of pounds worth of UK taxes that would have provided schools, hospitals and services for the public. Considering his vast wealth, the sums he cynically donates for yacht races, cycling teams and schoolchildren’s Daily Mile are nothing more than a cheap publicity stunt.

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