Quentin ensures that client avoids prosecution for breach of planning enforcement notice
Mr AO was under investigation for breach of a planning enforcement notice. The St Albans District Council had established that AO had used an outbuilding in his garden as a residential unit and let it to tenants. As a result they served a planning enforcement notice under the Town and Country Planning Act 1990. AO did not appeal.
The local authority later came into possession of information that AO had continued to use his property in breach of the planning enforcement notice by continuing to rent the outbuilding out to tenants. A visit by enforcement officers took place and the local authority gained clear evidence that AO was in breach of the notice. Breach of a planning enforcement notice is a criminal offence under section 179 of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990 with the defendant being liable upon conviction to a potentially unlimited fine. Even worse for AO, who is a professional individual with an unblemished record, conviction leads to having a criminal record which shows up on employment DBS checks.
AO chose to instruct specialist criminal defence barrister Quentin Hunt under the direct public access scheme.
Upon instruction Quentin was able to ascertain the strength of the case against AO as well as taking instructions on potential defences. Quentin was able to provide tactical and evidential advice and it was decided that the top priority in the case was to avoid conviction. As a result, Quentin wrote a lengthy letter of representations to the Council outlining submission made in respect of the tests under the Code for Crown Prosecutors as well as putting forward possible alternatives to prosecution in the case. He was in regular contact with both the investigating officer at the Council, and the lawyer within the legal department who had conduct of the case. Quentin was unrelenting in seeking to secure an outcome for his client that would not involve a conviction for a criminal offence.
After a significant period of negotiations Quentin was successful. The local authority agreed that they would not prosecute AO if he accepted a local authority caution. Crucially such a caution does not show up on the police national computer and would not be disclosed on a DBS check. AO was delighted and accepted the caution. As a result no further action was taken against him, and he avoided being prosecuted.
If you find yourself accused of a criminal offence, and need to keep a clean record you may wish to instruct experienced and effective representation. Quentin Hunt is a Criminal Defence Barrister who specialises in representing professionals who need to maintain their good character. Quentin prides himself in listening to his clients and striving to achieve the result that they want. You can contact Quentin for a free, no obligation conversation about how he can assist with any criminal case.
Quentin has written many other articles about breach of planning enforcement notices, FAQs in respect of this legislation can be read here.