Quentin Achieves Absolute Discharge in Planning Enforcement case

Quentin Achieves Absolute Discharge in Planning Enforcement case


Quentin Hunt represented Mrs JC, a professional landlady who appeared before the Criminal Courts in respect of a failure to comply with the terms of a planning enforcement notice contrary to s172 of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990. Mrs JC was the owner of a number of rental properties and had carried out development work without planning permission. She had been served with a planning enforcement notice by the London Borough of Hackney and had failed to comply with the terms of the notice for 3 years. As a result of this the Local Authority summonsed her to Court for failure to comply.


Quentin Hunt is a specialist Planning Enforcement Barrister who accepts instructions both through solicitors and on a Direct Public Access basis. He was instructed through Solicitors to look after Mrs JC’s interests and ensure that she received the lowest possible sentence following a Guilty plea to the offence charged.


Upon instruction Quentin met Mrs JC in conference and took instructions from her. He proceeded to work with his instructing solicitors to put together an impressive mitigation bundle for the sentencing Court. This included all information about the breaches, the reasons for the breaches, evidence showing recent compliance with the terms of the notice and general character mitigation.


At Court, in mitigation, Quentin was able to put forward a compelling picture of a lady who had instructed professional advisers to look after her position and had been let down by those advisers. Quentin argued that Mrs JC had very low culpability and therefore should receive the lowest sentence possible.


The Court agreed with Quentin’s submissions and passed a sentence of an Absolute Discharge upon Mrs JC. This is the lowest possible sentence that can be passed by a Criminal Court by law and is a sentence which is rarity- Home Office statistics show Absolute Discharges are given in a mere 0.7% of cases. The effect of this sentence is that Mrs JC was categorised as having not been convicted of a criminal offence in that if she is asked ‘have you been convicted of any criminal offence? She would be entitled to answer "No" (see R v Patel [2006] EWCA Crim 2689). This was important for Mrs JC in respect of her applications for finance, her travel and her general character. She was delighted with the sentence passed.


If you find yourself facing a planning enforcement prosecution or sentence it is wise to avail yourself of the best representation available. Quentin Hunt is a specialist Planning Enforcement Barrister with over 20 years’ experience in the Criminal Courts. He regularly appears for landlords and property professionals in Criminal Cases where their reputation and financial future are at stake. His in depth knowledge of the law and meticulous approach to evidential preparation ensures his clients have an excellent chance of success in their cases. You may contact Quentin for a no obligation conversation about any Planning Enforcement or Criminal case.