Legal

First oil and gas protest injunction to go to trial

180319 UKOG injunction2

Opponents of UKOG injunction at the High Court in London, 19 March 2018. Photo: DrillorDrop

For the first time, an injunction against protests at UK oil and gas sites is to be examined at a full trial at the High Court.

A judge in London this morning ordered that the interim injunction issued to UK Oil & Gas plc in September 2018 should go to trial before it was finalised.

In the past five years, interim injunctions have also been granted to Europa, Cuadrilla, Ineos, IGas and Angus Energy. They have covered actual or proposed exploration sites in Surrey, West Sussex, Nottinghamshire, South Yorkshire, Cheshire and Derbyshire.

In all these cases, the injunctions were decided on legal arguments at court hearings and evidence submitted in writing.

But Chief Master Marsh decided that the UKOG injunction, which deals with protests at Horse Hill in Surrey and Broadford Bridge in West Sussex, should go to trial. For the first time, witnesses will be able to give evidence in person.

The trial, expected to last seven days, is unlikely to be before December 2020.

Six women who live near UKOG sites have challenged the injunction. One of them, Vicki Elcoate, said today:

“We welcome the fact that this case will be going to a full trial where we will get the opportunity to put our evidence of what has happened at protests at oil and gas sites.

“We are very disappointed about the timescale, with a trial not expected until next year. In the meantime, people will continue to be deterred from visiting UKOG sites to exercise their right to protest.”

Ineos ruling

The UKOG injunction was similar to one granted to Ineos in July 2017.

But earlier this year, campaigner Joe Boyd successfully challenged parts of the Ineos injunction at the Court of Appeal.

Three law lords struck out prohibitions on protesting on the public highway, including slow walking, climbing onto vehicles and blocking the road. They also removed a section on protests against Ineos’s supply chain.

Opponents of the UKOG injunction have argued that it should have been revised following the Court of Appeal ruling. Ms Elcoate said today:

“It is time for UK Oil & Gas to give up on this injunction and bring it into line with the changes made in the Court of Appeal ruling on the Ineos order.

Persons unknown challenge

The UKOG injunction also faces another potential challenge from a more recent case at the High Court, arising from animal rights protests against the high-end London fashion store, Canada Goose.

Like UKOG and other oil and gas companies, Canada Goose sought an injunction against unidentified protesters called “persons unknown”. The companies had argued that it was not possible to identify all the people who might breach an injunction.

But Mr Justice Nicklin refused to confirm the Canada Goose injunction on 20 September 2019.

In his ruling, he said “no defendant has been validly served” because they had not been identified. He said it was “not impossible to name” the people against who the injunction was intended – or include a description of them.

UKOG’s barrister, Tim Polli QC, said today it would be an “enormous task” to identify from photographs the people who should be named on the injunction.

But Stephanie Harrison QC, for the six women campaigners in the UKOG case, said the oil company had already identified people from social media accounts. Like Canada Goose, it had sent the interim injunction to individual protesters and organisations.

Master

She also said the judge in the Canada Goose case had drawn on the Court of Appeal ruling on the Ineos injunction. This required “persons unknown” injunctions to be precise about the terms of any order and restrain only unlawful conduct.

  • The Canada Goose case is due to go to the Court of Appeal in February 2020. In the meantime, UKOG is to decide whether it will add parties to the injunction from photos and video of protests at its sites. The company has also been required by the court to decide within a month the scope of the injunction that will go to trial.

Canada Goose summary

Canada Goose ruling

17 replies »

  1. Maybe peaceful protesters should have to be registered on a protest & a registration number be clear to see.

    I accept there are genuine protestors but those in balaklavas, climbing on vehicles & being disruptive have no intention of peacefull protest & if the organizer’s of the protests we’re genuine they would not want them tarnishing there movements image.

    • The law accepts that a certain amount of disruption is to be expected in a
      peaceful protest situation. How do you suggest people carry out effective protest?

      • Why is acceptable that disruption is not considered agressive or pravocative against a company, it suppliers & there properties & there employees going about there law abiding bussness on a public highway which has laws that govern them?

        Why is it that the people & the organizations, organizing the so called legal demonstration are allowed to shirk there legal responsibilities for the demonstrations that they want to hold?

        The organizers should be held accountable that there supporters abide by the law in the demonstrations that they hold.

        Registration & clearly visible numbers on a fluresent vests should be mandatory as they may be on the public highway & need to be clearly visible to traffic on the road to prevent accidents where a individual may get knocked over.

        If protesters lay in the highway they are causing an obstuction as well as endangering there own life.
        This is also intimidating against the drivers of the lorries.

        The wearing of balaclavas to hide people’s identities to prevent there action’s being accountable it comparable to the behavior in riots.

        These actions are in my opinion anything but peaceful & why an injunction has been necessary as the common law was not being upheld.

        For the injunction to be removed there should.

        1. Be a registration process put in as a legal requirement with the protesters clearly identifiable.

        2. The organizers should have stewards & maybe CCTV camera’s availableto monitor there protesters & be accountable for the conduct of there protesters providing a risk assessment, first aid & an indemnity, where necessary.

        Accountability from the organizers is key.

        As it stands the organizers probably think that it is great to have the extreme fringe onboard to grab the headlines!

        At present the oil companies are being called the bad guys for needing what is being termed a draconian injunction against persons unknown.

        When at present it seems to be acceptable for a unorganized gathering to engage in riotous behavior with no accountability.

  2. Those climbing on vehicles are usually extremely peaceful people and are acting in what they believe to be the greater good. Any violence is usually initiated by police with no retaliation from protesters except that they refuse to move. Non Violent Direct Action (NVDA) such as climbing on a tanker or locking on in front of gates IS peaceful and genuine protest.

  3. I’m sure these protesters would be pissed off if I climbed on their family saloon or chained myself to their front gate…who do these people think they are .?
    These companies should sue each individual and hit them where it hurts like they are doing to the companies targeted.Its easy behind a mask to intimidate but if they knew they will be ruined financially things might be different…

    • ‘Its easy behind a mask to intimidate’

      Quick look at Cuadrilla Resources Holdings Ltd to find out who the four are with significant control and this is what it states for each,

      ‘The person with significant control’s details are not shown because restrictions on using or disclosing any of the individual’s particulars are in force under regulations under section 790ZG in relation to this company’

      https://beta.companieshouse.gov.uk/company/07147040/persons-with-significant-control

      What size balaclava do you want? I will have a 790ZG thanks.

      • Perhaps this is the reason for section 790ZG JP:

        “For example, a company director may be at serious risk of violence or intimidation due to the activities of their company and seek protection so their usual residential address (URA) is not made available to CRAs. URA information would still be available to specified public authorities on application.

        Certain characteristics or personal attributes of a PSC when associated with a company could put them, or someone who lives with them at serious risk of violence or intimidation. In these cases, an application can be made so that no information about them in relation to that company is available on the public register. If the application’s successful, the PSC’s registered information is protected. This would still be available to specified public authorities on application. In these cases, the public register will show there’s a PSC subject to protection.”

        • Perhaps this is the reason for a section 790ZG balaclava.
          A company promotes itself with a pack of lies. 64,000 well paid jobs and cheap gas. It further tries to promote itself by stating it has experience of 3000 fracking developments of which no evidence is offered. It then blatantly lies that the UK gets half it’s gas from Russia. In desperation it states that it can work inside an agreed 0.5 magnitude limit but straightaway causes a 2.9 magnitude earthquake.
          Anyone spouting that amount of nonsense may well want to hide away.

  4. Rather like the ER protests on LU ordinary law abiding people can get pretty annoyed when they are inconvenienced just going about their every day life and believe that the police are pussyfooting with the protesters

  5. In a democratic country, a certain amount of protest has to be expected. It’s a legal right under the Human Rights Act. I’ve been part of the protest at PNR for the last 3 years. We do wear hi viz clothing. If people block the highway they are normally arrested and charged with obstruction. They have often faced police violence and been seriously physically injured by police too whilst carrying out peaceful protest. They are also often arrested on flimsy charges and bailed away from the area just to deny them their rights to protest. These charges are then dropped or they are acquitted. People don’t protest for fun. They protest because all other avenues such as letter writing, contacting MPs and petitions are ignored. Half the adult population of this country would still be denied the vote if the Suffragettes hadn’t carried out their protests, which were often less than peaceful.

    • Pauline

      I am glad that you recognize that this is a democratic country & I personally agree that the effects of the last Hydrolic fracturing at PNR are beyond an acceptable for whatever reason in this type of rock & location but imo it needs looking at as to the reasons.

      In a democracy you have the right to object & protest but if you break the law you must also face the consequences.

      It is easy to accuse the police of voilance.
      But if a protester who has already broken the law & is being arrested in what from your perspective may be a flimsy charge then resists arrest.

      How do you expect the police to deal with this matter?

      I am sure you can not describe any actions like the ones in France by the police which I would call violent.

      But what from your sympathetic perspective of your colleagues arrest I’m sure you would not like to determine it as reasonable force.

      What I would like to see before any injunctions are removed is the organizers of the protest accepting responsibility with registration & there protesters wearing numbers so that the can be identified & private action can be brought against the organizers & named persons from there registration number for there action’s.

      If they climb on lorries that may be trespass any damages, criminal damage.
      Delaying a companies legal right to carry out there business costs time & money.

      I am not saying that the protesters should not have the right to protest.

      What I am saying is that the companies should have a right of redress for any actions or costs incurred by those actions of the protesters who cost the companies, the police & the country money for there protests against what has been demacraticly allowed.

      • MH.In my experience at PNR if a protestor breaks the law, they have been arrested and charged. As I have also said, many arrests have taken place purely to have people bailed away from the area, often for months, until their case comes to court only for it to be thrown out on the day or they are acquitted. The police tactic of arrest to keep people from exercising their legal right to protest is well known. The idea of people who protest being registered, wearing numbers etc is hardly the mark of a civilised society where people’s Human Rights are upheld. In practice, every movement is filmed by police evidence gatherers anyway and the police know most protestors by name. As far as your claim that people are injured resisting arrest, people do not resist arrest. That is the point of peaceful protest. The serious injuries I mentioned, including broken bones, dislocated shoulders, torn ligaments and concussion have been caused by police violently pushing people out of the way when they were simply exercising their legal right to protest. Police action is meant to be proportional to the rights of the industry and the rights of the protestor. This has definitely not been the case. May I add that most of the injuries have been sustained, not by “crusty professional protestors” as many imagine. They have been sustained by middle aged and elderly local people, such as myself, who have been desperately trying to protect their families, homes and area from fracking. As it has transpired at PNR, they’re objections been justified.

  6. Objecting to “persons unknown” is a stupid attempt at a cop out by the antis. It was very noticeable during the recent XR activities that the Internet enables easy reach of Tarquins and Jemimas across the country to trundle along for a few days and cause disruption and cost to the companies concerned.

    The Australians are currently looking at extra legislation to deal with this. I expect by the time this comes to a UK Court the Australians will have introduced such legislation and the UK will probably have copied.

    Not a Brucey bonus-a Brexit bonus, where the UK can make laws to manage such situations.

      • Careful Pavlova, when the Internet is under State control you will not be allowed to post speculation, being too closely linked with capitalism!

        Emojis will also be rationed, as they devalue the State education system.

        I shall be okay as I always stick with the reality-like UK will be able to decide upon the laws it feels appropriate.

        (Are you feeling lonely in Lancashire amongst all those leavers? Maybe that is the reason for your constant bad temper?)

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