Verbal agreement saves piggery's bacon

A piggery has successfully defended its right to dump effluent into a public sewer because it had a verbal agreement with the sewers' previous owner.

United Utilities Water plc v Moss Rose Piggeries Ltd

Judgement in the case of United Utilities plc v Moss Rose Piggeries Ltd was published on 30 June 2006. The case arose following allegations that the defendant company, which operated a pig farm, has discharged trade effluent into the public sewer contrary to s 118(5) of the Water Industry Act 1991.

Moss Rose Piggeries Ltd argued that the discharges had been made on the basis of an oral agreement which was made with the predecessor of United Utilities Water plc.

While United Utilities Water plc argued that the agreement had been terminated by a letter giving the defendant three months' notice to that effect, the court held that the agreement had not been terminated since three months' notice was held to be unreasonable.
On appeal, one of the questions that arose was whether the prosecution had to prove that the discharges were not in accordance with the agreement.

The Court held that the findings of the deputy district judge were justified as the defendant had established the existence of an agreement, and, having done so, it was for the prosecution to prove that the discharges were not in accordance with that agreement.

As the prosecution had not obtained from the deputy district judge the findings that would require a verdict of guilty, the acquittal of Moss Rose Piggeries Ltd was justified. The appeal was therefore dismissed.

Details will be available here shortly after publication of this article.

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