Laying down the law - when the regulator gets it wrong

Simon Colvin gives an update on recovering damages and financial losses from environmental regulators

The recent cases of Sebry and Mott, alongside the reported instances of the Environment Agency voluntarily contributing to the clearance of some illegal waste sites – such as at Great Heck in Yorkshire (see panel), and at Orpington in Kent – suggest the prospects of recovering compensation and damages from the regulator might be better now than in the past.

Just two years ago (the environmentalist, July 2014, p15), it seemed almost impossible to bring a damages claim to recover any financial losses a business might have suffered as a result of the regulator making a mistake.

A special relationship

The 2013 case, Dodson v Environment Agency, illustrated how difficult it could be to show that a regulator owed the person that had suffered a loss a duty of care, which would underpin any damages claim. That is because the courts set the bar very high. They were looking for either ...

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