Ineos ordered to pay costs in protest injunction challenge

The would-be fracking company, Ineos, has been ordered to pay the costs of two campaigners who challenged its controversial injunctions.

In 2017, the company was granted what was considered to be the most wide-ranging restriction on protests at shale gas sites.

The injunctions applied to eight named locations, routes to proposed sites, depots, sub-contractors, equipment and operations.

The terms specifically outlawed slow walking and climbing on top of vehicles, two frequently-used protest techniques.

They also covered trespass, other forms of obstruction of the highway, private nuisance, interference with the rights of way over land, harassment and combining to commit unlawful acts.

People who were found to have breached the injunctions could be considered in contempt of court and could be fined, jailed or have their assets seized.

Ineos is largely owned by Jim Ratcliffe, one of Britain’s wealthiest men, and a recent bidder for Manchester United Football Club.

The company said in 2017 that the injunctions were necessary because it thought its shale gas operations were at “a real and imminent risk of being targeted by unlawful protests”.

But they were challenged separately by anti-fracking campaigners, Joe Boyd and Joe Corre, in a series of hearings at the High Court and Court of Appeal.

They argued that that the injunctions infringed fundamental rights to protest and campaign against fracking.

All the injunctions have now been discharged and the company’s claims have been dismissed or discontinued. Ineos no longer has any planning permissions to carry out shale gas exploration.

Ruling on costs

In a ruling published earlier this week, the judge, Master Francesca Kaye, said Ineos should pay the costs of the campaigners’ hearings at the High Court.

She also used her powers to strike out Ineos’s claims against anyone breaching the injunctions.

Master Kaye said:

“In the absence of these defendants [Mr Boyd and Mr Corre] it seems to me unlikely that the same critical eye would have been brought to bear on these injunctions and their scope.

Civil courts can award costs to the successful, or most successful, side in a dispute.

Master Kaye considered 2,000 pages of legal arguments and additional legal authorities from the two sides in the Ineos case.

In her 40-page ruling, she said:

“the defendants were the overall successful party and that there is no reason in this case for the court to depart from the usual costs order in such circumstances”.

She refused the campaigners’ bid for additional (indemnity) costs because of the way Ineos had behaved. Last year, another High Court judge had criticised the company for  “improper conduct” and “inexcusable delay”.

Master Kaye said:

“I am not persuaded that the conduct of the claimants is so far out of the norm that an indemnity costs order is appropriate.”

She told the company and the campaigners to agree what the costs should be. If they can’t do this, she will make the decision.

Long-running challenge

This week’s ruling is the latest stage in more than five years of court hearings involving Ineos and the campaigners.

The injunction was granted in July 2017. It was revised following challenges at the High Court.

In 2019, the appeal court ruled that key sections were unlawful. It removed orders prohibiting protests on the public highway and against Ineos’s supply chain.

The appeal court also ruled that the remaining sections on trespass and private rights of way and the issue of costs should be reconsidered by the High Court.

Master Kaye said this week the case represented a “clash between the public and private”.

“the position still remains that there is a balance to be struck between private rights, public rights and human rights such as those relating to freedom of expression and the right to lawfully protest.

“This does not preclude the claimants from actively seeking to lawfully limit the extent of such activities in relation to their fracking sites, just as it does not prevent the defendants from opposing such action by the claimants.

“It is by that mechanism that the balance is found, and the law develops.”

4 replies »

  1. This appears to be a useful intervention to cutting back on environmental pollution and warming of the atmosphere

    Punk funeral: Joe Corré burns £5m of memorabilia on Thames
    Son of Malcolm McLaren protests against music becoming ‘marketing tool’ on 40th anniversary of Anarchy in the UK

    Dummies of David Cameron, Theresa May and George Osborne were burned by Joe Corré alongside punk memorabilia on Saturday.
    Dummies of David Cameron, Theresa May and George Osborne were burned by Joe Corré alongside punk memorabilia on Saturday. Photograph: Ki Price/Getty Images
    Press Association
    Sat 26 Nov 2016 17.41 GMT
    The son of Vivienne Westwood and the late Sex Pistols manager Malcolm McLaren has set fire to an estimated £5m worth of punk memorabilia on a boat on the river Thames.

    Joe Corré torched the items alongside effigies of politicians loaded with fireworks, as part of a protest near Albert Bridge in Chelsea, west London.

    Corre, who was wearing a top hat and bandana tied around his head, told the crowd before setting the items alight: “Punk was never, never meant to be nostalgic – and you can’t learn how to be one at a Museum of London workshop.

    “Punk has become another marketing tool to sell you something you don’t need. The illusion of an alternative choice. Conformity in another uniform.”

    Joe Corré sets fire to his punk collection.
    Joe Corré sets fire to his punk collection. Photograph: John Phillips/Getty Images
    Dummies of David Cameron, Theresa May and George Osborne were among those engulfed in flames, as well as a chest containing clothes, posters and other memorabilia belonging to Corré.

    A crowd, including Westwood, gathered on the bank of the river to watch as the items burned and fireworks exploded in the sky.

    Joe Corré’s £5m punk bonfire is a futile gesture
    Rhiannon Lucy Cosslett
    Rhiannon Lucy Cosslett
    Read more
    Corré, who founded the lingerie company Agent Provocateur, previously said he was angered by plans to mark 40 years of the subculture with a programme of events, gigs and exhibitions called Punk London, supported by partners including the mayor of London, the British Library and the British Film Institute.

    A banner on the boat read: ‘Extinction! Your future.’
    A banner on the boat read: ‘Extinction! Your future.’ Photograph: Ki Price/Getty Images
    In a blog post, Corré said he wanted to highlight “the hypocrisy at the core of this hijacking of 40 years of Anarchy in the UK”, the Sex Pistols song that was released on 26 November 1976.

    He called on those watching the spectacle to confront taboos and not tolerate hypocrisy, while warning of the dangers of climate change.

    Fireworks were launched from the boat, which was decorated with Grim Reaper figures holding flags and a banner that read: “Extinction! Your future”.

    Westwood told the crowd to switch to green energy following her son’s demonstration. Leaning out of the back window on the top of a green double-decker bus, parked on the river bank, she said: “This is the first step towards a free world. It’s the most important thing you could ever do in your life.”

    She added: “I never knew what to say before … ever since punk … we never had a strategy then, that’s why we never got anywhere. This is so ridiculously easy. Let’s all have a laugh and stay alive.”

  2. Corre definitely has his faults but in this case it was the other defendant, Joe Boyd, who’s determination to stick it out (with no personal gain whatsoever) helped to win this case. Without Joe Boyd and his team the prescient points would not have come to light and for this we are very thankful.

  3. Are “we” Pixie? Rich people playing with the legal system, and the consumer will pick up the cost-eventually. Those who are thankful short term=the legal profession.

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