High Court radically scales back UK Oil and Gas protest injunction

Tuesday 9 February 2021

Stephanie Harrison QC, Stephen Simblet QC and Fatima Jichi of the Garden Court Chambers Protest Rights Team represented Weald Action Group protestors instructed by Michael Oswald of Bhatt Murphy Solicitors.

Stephen Clark of the Garden Court Chambers Protest Rights Team represented protestors instructed by Lochlinn Parker of ITN Solicitors.

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A High Court judge has approved major cuts to one of England’s widest-ranging injunctions against protests at oil and gas sites. Mrs Justice Falk reduced the scope and impact of an interim injunction first granted to UK Oil & Gas plc (UKOG) in 2018. 

Opponents had previously described the injunction terms as “draconian, oppressive and unjustified”.

The injunction now applies only to a handful of named people instead of the 100+ previously listed by UKOG. It covers only the Horse Hill oil site in Surrey and no longer to UKOG’s Broadford Bridge site in West Sussex or the company’s Guildford headquarters. 

As a result of submissions made by Garden Court barristers in this and other cases, UKOG was forced to drop the injunction's prohibition on 'slow walking', which had prevented the campaigners from undertaking important symbolic acts of protest.

The judge ruled that campaigners can protest in parts of the Horse Hill entrance, known as the bellmouth, without breaching the injunction if they do not obstruct access to or from the site. 

Stephanie Harrison QC said her clients had been “vindicated by the concessions now made by UKOG”. She described earlier versions of the order as “excessive” affecting the fundamental rights of a “wider range of environmental campaigning groups and individuals”.

Mrs Justice Falk further ordered UKOG not to use alias Facebook accounts to give information about the injunction to protesters. The company admitted that a security officer using a false name had sent messages to environmental campaigners.

Our Garden Court Chambers Protest Rights Team has been at the forefront of challenging the use of draconian Persons Unknown civil injunctions on behalf of concerned individuals and NGOs, having acted for the successful Appellant and the Intervener in INEOS and for the Gypsy and Travellers Association in the London Borough of Bromley case. In related protest work, Garden Court counsel appeared at trial and on appeal in the Stansted 15 case and currently act in the ongoing litigation around the HS2 tunnel eviction. For further details about our protest work and cases, please visit our Protests Rights Team page

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