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  • Badger
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7 years 7 months ago #343 by Badger
A landmark judgement today (8 November 2016) at Kingston County Court confirmed that the navigation licence fee payable by boat owners relates only to the right to pass along the River Thames, including anchoring or mooring for a reasonable time to facilitate passage. It gives no right to long term or permanent mooring.

Two cases of trespass were brought by the Environment Agency against Alastair Trotman, owner of the so-called “Slumboat” currently moored just downstream of Molesey Lock and three other boats illegally moored upstream of Teddington Lock. In both cases the court granted possession orders to the Environment Agency as owner of the sites in question.

This means that Mr Trotman is obliged to move the vessels immediately. In the case of “Slumboat”, this is a barge with no engine and the judge ruled that for reasons of safety officers of the EA escort the defendant while it is removed, given the complexities of tides and currents. The logistics will be negotiated between the EA and Mr Trotman.

The original “Slumboat” summons related to trespass on land alongside houses in Hampton Court Crescent and the adjacent Octagon head office. Having been issued with the summons Mr Trotman pulled “Slumboat” downstream on 3 November to the lock entrance area and subsequently through the lock to its present position near the boat hire business. Last weekend he manhandled his supply vessels through the lock also.
In court the EA pointed out that this was a move of only some 100 metres and the judge allowed the reference on the possession notice to be altered to the present location.
Mr Trotman’s main defence was that the EA is not a freeholder and therefore cannot bring a case of trespass. He argued that public bodies do not have access to common law and only have the statutory powers they are given by the state. This was dismissed by the judge who said that Land Registry documents show the EA to have title absolute over the lands in question and have the same rights of protection from trespass as any other landowner.
The defendant also argued that to bring a case of trespass the EA must show that it requires the land back “for its exclusive possession” but again the judge ruled this irrelevant. She also dismissed the argument that the navigation licence gives a long-term right to moor.

Mr Trotman asked for leave to appeal the County Court’s judgement but this was refused. He was ordered to pay court costs for each case, amounting to £710 in all, to be paid by 29 November.