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Revolt News 137

11/12/2002

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Revolt News 137

*** CHALLENGE to National Grid - see below.

1. The High Court verdict was given yesterday 10.12.02 in the case of NG v. Craven. I could not attend but from reports passed on to me Judge Hawksworth granted NG its injunction against Rosalind Craven, restricted costs against her to at most 50% of NG's claim and refused damages. NG had claimed some 65,000 pounds costs for one day, with some 6,000 pounds for "surveillance" which was understood to mean the short video shown in court last week - it seemed to me to be a very inadequate and often inaudible "home movie" quality recording for which reasonable costs might be a couple of hundred pounds. If all the NG costs are exaggerated on that scale then there is a lot of feeding from the trough!

2. Rosalind Craven responded on BBC TV Look North, saying that she was not surprised with the verdict and was considering an appeal, which she has 14 days to lodge. Revolt neither encourages nor discourages appeal as this is a matter for legal advice. We admire Rosalind Craven's courage in standing up, on her own, to the giant corporation.

3. Though disappointed, I too am not surprised, given the hostility which the judge had shown. It may also raise suspicions in the minds of onlookers that a hostile judge was substituted at a very late stage for Judge Behrens who had been more reasonable at the case planning conference.

4. Revolt and NFU had some months ago obtained senior counsel's opinion on the specific question of access. However Rosalind Craven had raised new points about deficiencies in NG's applications and about constitutional and human rights. I am not sure if the key question, of whether NG had been reasonable in seeking an injunction before answering Rosalind Craven's questions, has actually been addressed by the judge.

5. Revolt does not have a view on the legal weight of Rosalind Craven's new points, as it has not obtained a legal opinion on them. They are complicated and fundamental and it would be costly to do so. We will need to see the judge's reasoning underpinning his verdict to see if he has answered these questions.

6. Now NG has the outcome it sought, I challenge it to do the decent thing and waive the claim for costs against Rosalind Craven, for the following reasons: 

(a) NG benefits from having the determination of what was a test case in the grey area on access rights; 

(b) NG chose to go to court instead of answering Rosalind Craven's genuine questions; 

(c) waiving costs on this occasion, as an exception, would not be a precedent to encourage others to hold out for injunctions; 

(d) some of the claimed costs appear to be highly inflated and wholly unequal; 

(e) Rosalind Craven has already suffered the cost of a huge amount of time and anxiety; 

(f) it would be an opportunity for NG to make a step towards repairing its damaged reputation, but it would need a culture change to step away from its hostile and punitive legal approach.

Mike O'Carroll

Huby Protest