Not guilty verdict for Landlord in Planning Enforcement prosecution
Mrs RD is a pensioner who held a rental property in a property portfolio which represented her pension nest egg. The property had been subject to a planning enforcement notice pursuant to section 179 of the Town and Country Planning Act 1997. This enforcement notice had been put in place many years earlier by Harrow District Council and not acted upon for a significant period of time.
RD was surprised when the Council contacted her representatives informing them that they were to prosecute her for the alleged breach.
RD instructed Quentin Hunt, a Criminal Defence Barrister who specialises in planning enforcement cases to represent her interests on a direct public access basis.
Quentin immediately contacted the council to try to put a stop to the prosecution. He wrote a series of detailed representations outlining how the prosecution did not meet either the evidential test or the public interest test for prosecution under the Code for Crown Prosecutors. He also outlined how the prosecution was likely an abuse of the process of the Court, Quentin argued that the abuse was due to:
- the delay in prosecution,
- the legitimate expectation that RD had that she would not be prosecuted and
- the possible oblique motive that the Council may have had to gain a financial order to their benefit under the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002.
The Council declined to drop the prosecution and applied for a summons against Quentin’s client.
Quentin continued to attempt to persuade the Council that the prosecution should not proceed and outlined details of how the case would be defended, relying upon the statutory defence under s179(2) of the Town and Country Planning Act 1997.
The matter proceeded to Court and at an appearance at the Willesden Magistrates Court Quentin persuaded the prosecutor who appeared that the prosecution should not continue. As a result the prosecution offered no evidence against Mrs RD. This meant that the Court entered a formal verdict of Not Guilty against Quentin’s client; the case was over. Mrs RD was delighted.
If you face planning enforcement prosecution you may wish to avail yourself of experienced and effective representation. Quentin Hunt is a criminal defence Barrister who specialises in the defence of planning enforcement cases. He accepts instructions either through solicitors or direct from members of the public. Quentin strives his best to make sure that the cases his clients face never reach trial and prides himself on his effective pre-charge and Courtroom representation. If you find yourself under investigation or facing a prosecution for a planning enforcement breach you may contact Quentin for a free, no obligation conversation about your case.