Supreme Court intervention by NGO in crucial “anti-sewage dumping” challenge

The Environmental Law Foundation (ELF) represented by Hausfeld, intervened in major environmental law proceedings in the Supreme Court between a water company operating in the Northwest of England (United Utilities) and the operators of the Manchester Shipping Canal (MSCCL) on 6-7 March 2023

Hausfeld have had a longstanding involvement with this case, initially representing a consortium of interveners, including ELF, in the hearing of this matter before the Court of Appeal in March 2022. For more info. 

MSCCL lost its appeal last year but appealed their case to the Supreme Court.

Hausfeld were instructed to seek permission to intervene in the Supreme Court hearing on behalf of ELF, and were successful in securing permission to submit written, and oral submissions and for a Witness Statement to be lodged in support of their case, and the legal arguments made by MSCCL.

As set out in ELF’s successful application for permission to intervene in this case – the implications of the appeal are far from confined to the commercial dispute between MSCCL and UU, but rather the lower Court’s rulings, if left unchallenged, would have the effect of immunising water companies from a majority of private common law actions in respect of polluting discharges, in this instance raw sewage.

The Supreme Court hearing in March came at a critical point for the health of the UK’s rivers. Recent data indicates that water companies discharged raw sewage via storm overflows into rivers across the UK, through 2021, 372,533 times, over 2.75 million hours. 

Making water companies more directly accountable to a wider group of landowners and water users will force water companies to re-examine their conduct around sewage releases. Our Supreme Court challenge creates an opportunity to do just that."

Sarah Moore, Partner, Hausfeld in London

The Hausfeld team, comprising Partner Sarah Moore and Associate Hana Tawfik, instructed Counsel Stephen Hockman KC from 6 Pump Court and Tom Cleaver from Blackstone Chambers. The full case reference is UKSC 2022/0121.


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