RWE NPower v Carrol & Others
Reference:  EWHC 947 (QB)
Court: Queen's Bench Division
Judge: Teare J
Date of judgment: 27 Apr 2007
Summary: Harassment - Trespass - Injunction - Representative Capacity of Defendant - CPR 19.6(4) - Enforcement of Order - Power of Arrest under Protection from Harassment Act 1997.
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Instructing Solicitors: Lawson Cruttenden & Co for the Claimant; Liberty for the Defendants
The Claimant was the owner of a coal-fired power station in Oxfordshire. It had planning permission to dump ash from the power station in eight former gravel pits in Radley. A number of people were opposed to the proposal to deposit the ash on this site. An ex parte injunction had been granted by Calvert-Smith J on 14 February 2007 to restrain acts of harassment and trespass on the Claimant’s land. The Claimant applied to continue the injunction to benefit itself and its employees.
(1) Whether the injunction should be continued; and, if so
(2) the appropriate terms of any continued injunction;
(3) whether the injunction could be enforced under the Harassment Act 1997 against persons who were not Defendants but who were part of the group represented by the First Defendant.
(1) The Claimant had made out a proper case for the continuation of the injunction in view of numerous threats that had been made by the Defendants;
(2) the injunction would be modified slightly to take to ensure that it did not affect lawful activities.
(3) The injunction bound all the persons in the class represented by the first Defendant. However, the terms of CPR 19.6(4)(b) meant that the injunction could only be enforced – including arrest by the police for breach of the harassment provisions – if the Court gave its permission. Such permission could not be provided in advance.
In formulating the terms of the injunction, the Judge noted: “It is particularly important to ensure that the right of peaceful protest is not impeded to a disproportionate extent”. The interesting issue thrown up in the context of harassment injunctions and lawful protest is whether the protest has to be “peaceful”. The Protection from Harassment Act 1997’s definition of what amounts to harassment is so wide as to embrace any matters which cause “distress or alarm”. If lawful protest is not to be unduly curtailed by the Harassment Act, the Courts need to be vigilant that too low a threshold of what amounts to harassment is not applied. Note also the conclusions of the enforceability of Harassment Act injunctions where the Defendants are served in a representative capacity, relying upon the earlier decision of Holland J in Huntingdon Life Sciences Group plc v Stop Huntingdon Animal Cruelty.