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Success in contempt proceedings for Cuadrilla in relation to protests at hydraulic fracturing site

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    Cuadrilla v Persons Unknown: Anti-fracking protestors found in contempt of court

    Eversheds Sutherland, working with Wilberforce Chambers, has successfully advised long-standing client Cuadrilla Bowland Limited (Cuadrilla) on an application to commit three respondents for the breach of an injunction preventing unlawful forms of protest at one of its “fracking” sites.

    Julie Dilcock, Principal Associate, and Shona Jenkins, Associate, working alongside Tom Roscoe of Wilberforce Chambers, advised Cuadrilla following breaches of an injunction to prevent trespass and other unlawful protest at its hydraulic fracturing site in Preston New Road, Lancashire, UK.

    Tom and Julie previously acted for Cuadrilla on the grant of the injunction in July 2018 against “persons unknown” preventing trespass, obstruction of vehicular access to the site and conspiracy to injure Cuadrilla by unlawful interference with its supply chain.  

    Following a two-day hearing, HHJ Pelling QC (sitting as a Judge of the High Court) on 28 June 2019 found each of the three respondents in contempt of court for every incident alleged, including a multi-hour “lock-on” on the highway at the entrance to the site, and an unlawful means conspiracy to stop vehicles on the highway making deliveries to the site.

    The judgment clarifies the enforcement of injunctions brought against “persons unknown”. The Court’s conclusion references that parties’ intentions in such orders does not render them too uncertain to be enforced via committal proceedings, thereby clarifying the effect of earlier case law from Boyd v Ineos Upstream [2019].

    A further hearing is due to take place in September 2019 to determine sentencing and the respondents’ and Friends of the Earth’s application to vary the terms of the injunction.


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