Rated defence solicitor who defends environmental law prosecutions

Jim Meyer is a rated defence solicitor who represents clients facing enforcement action by the Environment Agency; this includes providing advice and assistance to:

  • Those on the receiving end of one of the Environment Agency’s compulsory powers under section 108 of the Environment Protection Act 1995;
  • Those facing a potential civil sanction;
  • Those facing prosecution in the criminal courts.

In relation to criminal proceedings, if there is an adverse finding, the stakes are high:

  • A private individual may face a potential sentence of imprisonment;
  • Companies and unincorporated organisations face significant fines running to thousands or millions of pounds depending on turnover.

It is now more important than ever to keep abreast of key changes to the law so as to minimise the risk of non-compliance. If you are unsure of your obligations, Jim can provide you with practical advice to ensure that your business is compliant with environmental legislation.

Jim is a leading criminal defence solicitor who can help you defend an alleged environmental criminal offence

Jim has over 27 years' of experience as a criminal litigator and regulatory enforcement lawyer; whilst some businesses have an obvious potential to impact upon the environment, many others who do not fall into this category find themselves facing enforcement action. This may be following an environmental incident, such as water pollution, or due to non-compliance with complex waste or permitting regulations. Whatever the situation you find yourself in, Jim can help; instruct him and access his experience and expertise to help you defend a prosecution for:

  • Offences under section 33 of the Environmental Protection Act 1990:
    • Depositing or knowingly causing or knowingly permitting to be deposited controlled waste in or on land unless in accordance with the terms of a waste management licence (this includes the offence of so-called “fly-tipping”);
    • Treating, keeping or disposing of controlled waste on land or by means of any mobile plant unless in accordance with the terms of a waste management licence;
    • Treating, keeping or disposing of controlled waste that could cause environmental pollution or harm human health.
  • Operating a regulated facility or causing or knowingly permitting a water discharge activity or groundwater activity except under and to the extent authorised by an environmental permit (regulations 12 and 38 of the Environmental Permitting (England and Wales) Regulations 2020);
  • Transporting controlled waste without registering (section 1 of the Control of Pollution (Amendment) Act 1989);
  • Breaching a duty of care (section 34 of the Environmental Protection Act 1990);
  • Breaching an abatement note (section 80 of the Environmental Protection Act 1990);
  • Discharging matter into a public sewer which interferes with the free flow of wastewater (section 111 of the Water Industry Act 1991);
  • Offences under the Transfrontier Shipment of Waste Regulations 2007;
  • Obstructing an Environment Agency Officer.

Referrals from insurance-funded firms

It is a fact that a small number of insurance-funded law firms dominate the provision of legal services to companies and unincorporated organisations facing environmental protection enforcement action. Jim does not work for such a firm but many of his clients are either recommended to him by such firms because of a potential conflict of interest or because a company is seeking the advice of a specialist lawyer who is completely independent of its insurer.

Jim is not a commercial lawyer and his firm does not undertake any commercial work; he is unique in that he has a huge amount of experience in this area of law but has no commercial arm which vies for an introduction to a potential new client. That is why other lawyers feel confident in recommending him; they know he has the experience and knowledge that will see the client right, but they also know that by referring the client to Jim they are not risking their future relationship.

Providing support to potential witnesses when they speak to the Environment Agency and in advance of them giving evidence

Because of Jim’s 27 years' experience as a defence specialist, he is often asked to advise and provide support to potential witnesses when the Environment Agency indicates it wishes to speak to them. Jim provides the reassurance that the individual’s rights, including the right not to incriminate oneself, are protected and that the witness provides the best evidence (s)he can; in advance of any meeting Jim will do his best to ensure that the format for the questioning is understood, the topics for discussion are fully appreciated and that the witness is properly prepared for these.

Jim is also able to provide familiarisation training to witnesses who are to be called to give evidence during criminal proceedings; using his 27 years‘ experience as a contentious litigator, Jim will make sure the witness has a complete understanding of the theory, practice and procedure of giving evidence and what is expected of them. This includes orientating the witness with the layout of the legal court, the sequence of events when the witness will be giving evidence and the different responsibilities of the various people at the hearing.

Relevant case law in relation to environmental law prosecutions

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