Fracking and fossil fuel extraction: protest rights vs corporate interests

Wednesday 20 June 2018, 6:00pm - 8:00pm

Garden Court Chambers

Date: Wednesday 20 June 2018
Time: 6:00pm - 8:00pm
Venue: Garden Court Chambers, 57-60 Lincoln's Inn Fields, London WC2A 3LJ  
Areas of Law: Administrative and Public Law

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Licenses have been awarded for potential oil and gas extraction from the North West to the South East of England by fracking and other unconventional means, impacting on communities around the UK. Fracking companies have secured sweeping and draconian injunctions against anti-fracking protests, which threaten our fundamental civil rights.

These injunctions have been widely condemned by environmental campaigners and local communities. Powerful corporate firms are able to bypass local democracy and are increasingly attempting to restrict freedom of speech and assembly, prioritising commercial gain over the interests of the environment and the communities affected. In seeking these injunctions these companies bypass the local police and justice systems, preventing many forms of lawful protest and deterring groups from participating in local campaigns with the threat of imprisonment for breaching injunctions, and liability for excessive corporate costs of the litigation and damages.

This seminar brings together experts, environmental campaigners and leading lawyers with expertise in representing protestors in the different forums in which these issues are being brought before the Courts.

Speakers and delegates will be invited to discuss:

  • Attacks on protest rights using civil injunctions and the implications of ongoing cases in this area
  • Public order cases in the criminal courts to assess how the law is protecting and punishing protesters and those who seek to object to fracking
  • Public law and judicial review tactics to challenge fracking activities
  • Fracking science and the impact of fracking and other forms of oil and gas extraction on climate change
  • What is happening on the ground at sites, the tactics employed by the companies, the role of the police and how can the right to free speech, assembly and protest be protected?


Kevin Blowe, Coordinator, Network for Police Monitoring (Netpol)

Kevin Blowe became Coordinator of the Network for Police Monitoring (Netpol) in 2014, when Netpol began focusing on the policing of opposition to fracking across the country. This work has highlighting aggressive police tactics, intrusive police surveillance and the increasing reliance of the fracking industry on civil injunctions. Kevin trains legal observers for Green and Black Cross and regularly contributes to the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE)'s work on protecting rights to freedom of assembly. He spent 25 years as a campaigner with the Newham Monitoring Project in East London.

David Abrahams, Lawyer, Friends of the Earth
David practised as a self-employed barrister specialising in public and planning law before moving to employed practice. At Friends of the Earth David has worked on the campaign against fracking, as well as the campaign to protect environmental law after Brexit. David is leading Friends of the Earth’s current judicial review claim against the Environment Agency, challenging the lawfulness of Cuadrilla’s environmental permit for Preston New Road, and has also been working on Friends of the Earth’s response to the anti-protest injunctions currently being sought by oil and gas companies.

Richard Taylor, Independent Consultant
Richard Taylor is an independent consultant, who regularly supports climate litigation groups in the UK, including those at Garden Court, Client Earth and PlanB. He has spent the last 10 years advising government, industry and investors about sustainable energy technologies, often working with leading academics. Much of his work involves assessing GHG emissions or using energy system modelling to 2050, and therefore is relevant to the fracking debate. Richard’s background is in Maths & Physics, followed by an Energy Policy masters from Imperial College London.

Stephanie Harrison QC, Barrister, Garden Court Chambers (Call: 1991, Silk: 2013)
In addition to leading in some of the most important immigration cases, Stephanie has over 20 years’ experience representing claimants in complex judicial review challenges in areas affecting fundamental rights and freedoms.  She is a leader in the field of challenging the use of civil injunctions by public authorities and corporations to prevent and restrict the Article 10 and 11 ECHR rights of protesters and campaigners. Most recently she represented environmental campaigners protesting against UK Oil & Gas drilling sites and INEOS fracking operations. Stephanie is Joint Head of the Garden Court Public Law team, she was Liberty Human Rights Lawyer of the Year in 2013 and was shortlisted for Public Law Silk of the Year at the Legal 500 Awards 2017.

Marc Willers QC, Barrister, Garden Court Chambers (Call: 1987, Silk: 2014)
Marc specialises in planning and environmental law, public law and civil liberties. He recently represented a prominent anti-fracking campaigner in his Court of Appeal challenge to the government’s approval to allow fracking to go ahead in Lancashire. In the first case of its kind, Marc is also acting on behalf of Portuguese children suing 47 European countries at the European Court of Human Rights for their alleged failure to tackle climate change and protect the right to life and a healthy environment.

Stephen Simblet, Barrister, Garden Court Chambers (Call: 1991)
Stephen specialises in freedom of speech and protest cases. He has represented several campaigners in cases involving court injunctions taken out by commercial organisations against protestors. He has been instructed in several High Court cases where injunction proceedings were dropped or injunctions were refused. He recently represented environmental campaigners protesting against UK Oil & Gas drilling sites and INEOS fracking operations.

Owen Greenhall, Barrister, Garden Court Chambers (Call: 2010)
Owen has represented activists facing criminal charges arising from a large number of different demonstrations, including members from: Greenpeace, Balcombe Anti-Fracking, Coombe Haven Defenders, Unite Against Fascism, Occupy Democracy and UKuncut. He also acts in civil claims relating to protests, including actions against the police and possession proceedings. He is one of the authors of ‘The Protest Handbook’ (Bloomsbury 2012), and wrote the chapters on occupations, combining his knowledge of criminal law, possession proceedings and protest law.


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