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HCR Law Events

Dispute Resolution Specialists

For when you feel like you, or your business, has been threatened. Whether it’s by an individual, a company, or a public body – our solicitors will fight on your behalf, protect your position, and aim for the best possible outcome.

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What our clients say about us

When a small business is faced with a letter from a governmental agency, it can be an intimidating experience. And when the outcome threatens your entire livelihood, it can feel like the chips are stacked against you. But we thrive in these situations:

“There was a principle at stake – the Environment Agency didn’t give any thought to the impact of their restriction. I needed to take action to protect my business.”
Nigel Mott – Severn Estuary Fisherman

Case study: Harrison Clark Rickerbys helps sole trader defend against government agency

Nigel had used an ancient method of salmon fishing for more than 40 years to make his living on the Severn Estuary. A letter from the Environment Agency, demanding he reduce his catch by 95%, would have meant the end of his family business. Defending his corner, he came to Harrison Clark Rickerbys for help.

Michael Goodwin, Senior Associate

David vs Goliath

It’s not uncommon for legal disputes to be vastly weighted in one party’s favour, in terms of their size, resource, and legal firepower. For small businesses who are faced with disputes from larger organisations, this can be an isolating and intimidating experience.

Whether they are bringing a grievance, or they are the ones being targeted, it can mean the upheaval of life and livelihood for the small business and their family. Having a legal partner on board with the experience and knowledge to fight these battles is essential to gain an even footing.

We will do everything we can to keep your dispute out of court, and find a mutually agreeable settlement. But if it comes to court, we will fight on your behalf and reach for the best outcome possible for your business.

When the chips are down

We can help with:

  • Insurance issues
  • Commercial and corporate dispute resolution
  • Partnership dispute resolution
  • Shareholder disputes
  • Debt recovery
  • Financial dispute resolution
  • Real estate dispute resolution
  • Restrictive covenants
  • Director disputes
  • Wills, trusts and inheritance disputes.

What you’ll get from us:

Our experienced and specialist lawyers will draw upon their vast experience, to help you understand your position, determine what’s at stake, and formulate a plan to get what’s best for you. We partner with you to fully understand what you want and need from the situation, and plan a strategy that gets the best outcome for you.

We are pragmatic and don’t ‘sit on the fence’. We have dispute resolution experts in all nine of our offices across the UK.

We hope you never need us, but when you realise you do, choose us – you’ll be glad you did.

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The Human Rights Act held the key to reimbursing a client for lost income and a business under threat

For over 40 years, Nigel Mott had used an ancient method of salmon fishing to earn his living on the Severn Estuary. He planned to carry on fishing and to bring his son into the business, later retiring. But Nigel’s plan was threatened when he received a letter from the Environment Agency. It told him he had to reduce his catch from over 600 fish a year to under 30 for at least the next three years. Nigel was understandably shocked by a harsh restriction that would destroy his livelihood. To defend his business, he was forced to use his pension fund to take legal action. Fortunately, Mike Goodwin, Senior Associate, was able to help.

A breach of the European Convention on Human Rights

The Environment Agency’s decision was based on section 25 of the Salmon and Freshwater Fisheries Act 1975. At the High Court in Birmingham, we argued it was in breach of Article 1 of Protocol 1 of the European Convention on Human Rights. This Article says that a state cannot deprive its citizens of their property except in the public interest, and depriving someone of their property without the payment of compensation is justifiable only in exceptional circumstances.

The Judge agreed the Environment Agency’s restriction was unlawful and was in breach of Article 1 of Protocol 1 of the European Convention on Human Rights. Nigel was therefore owed damages for loss of livelihood under Section 8 of the Human Rights Act 1998.

The Environment Agency appealed this decision, so the case ended up at the Supreme Court. The Supreme Court agreed with the High Court’s decision. Damages were due.

Damages under the Human Rights Act 1998

Back at the High Court in Birmingham to decide the amount of damages due, Nigel faced another battle.

The Environment Agency argued that damages should be limited to around £10,000. This sum was based on the difference between 30 fish a year, which was an unlawful restriction, and 60 fish a year, which the Environment Agency said would have been considered lawful.

We argued that damages should be based on the number of fish Nigel would have caught if no restrictions had been in place. Based on previous returns, this was around 630 fish a year.

A successful outcome

The Judge agreed with our argument. He said damages under the Human Rights Act were discretionary but that they should be based on what would have happened if no rights had been breached.

The court ordered the Environment Agency to pay Nigel £187,278. This was the equivalent of his lost earnings for the three years the restriction would have been in place.

Mike Goodwin said:

“Obtaining a damages award that will help compensate Nigel for the devastation caused to his business was very gratifying. The case also shows that government agencies can be brought to account for their actions.”

Nigel Mott said:

“There was a principle at stake – the Environment Agency didn’t give any thought to the impact of their restriction. I needed to take action to protect my business.”

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