Royal sup­port, live­abord le­gal bat­tle, trapped boats, EA row, Sharp­ness vi­sion, rov­ing rally, Cotswold pioneer, CRT shake-up

Canal Boat - - News -

A DIS­ABLED LIVEABOARD boater given no­tice to re­move his craft from the Ken­net & Avon Canal for not cruis­ing enough to sat­isfy Canal & River Trust’s guide­lines will be able to have a le­gal chal­lenge on hu­man rights grounds heard.

Matthew Jones’s boat Mrs T was re­ported to have moved less than 5km in two years and his non-com­pli­ance with CRT’s in­ter­pre­ta­tion of the Bri­tish Wa­ter­ways 1995 Act (that boats should have a home moor­ing or nor­mally move ev­ery 14 days) led the trust to refuse him a li­cence and give 28 days’ no­tice to leave.

In the Ap­peal Court, how­ever, he main­tained that not only was CRT’s in­ter­pre­ta­tion wrong (a mat­ter that has been the sub­ject of pre­vi­ous court cases as a re­sult of the fail­ure of the Act to de­fine how much boats need to move), but also that his rights un­der Ar­ti­cle 8 of the Euro­pean Con­ven­tion on Hu­man Rights (cov­er­ing re­spect for pri­vate and fam­ily life and home) were be­ing breached, and that CRT had not con­sid­ered his rights, his per­sonal cir­cum­stances, his dis­abil­ity and the hard­ship that would re­sult.

CRT main­tained it was in the same po­si­tion as a hous­ing au­thor­ity, for which there have to be ex­cep­tional cir­cum­stances for Ar­ti­cle 8 to be con­sid­ered in home pos­ses­sion cases – and there­fore this part of Mr Jones’s de­fence should be struck out be­fore the case was heard. The County Court agreed with CRT, as did the High Court on ap­peal. How­ever the Ap­peal Court has now over­turned this rul­ing so when the orig­i­nal case is heard, it will in­clude the chal­lenge on hu­man rights grounds.

The trust re­sponded by point­ing out that the de­ci­sion was “not about CRT’s in­ter­nal pro­cesses or pro­ce­dures, or our in­ter­pre­ta­tion of the Bri­tish Wa­ter­ways Act 1995”, that the judges “did not crit­i­cise the Trust in this or any other en­force­ment case”, but rather that it “con­cerned how ar­gu­ments about the hu­man rights of live-aboard boaters should be con­sid­ered by the courts.”

The Na­tional Bargee Trav­ellers As­so­ci­a­tion said it was “an ex­tremely im­por­tant judg­ment for boat-dwellers” that an Ar­ti­cle 8 de­fence could not be sum­mar­ily dis­missed.

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