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multiple breaches of a single stop notice leads to multiple fines

30 October 2013

When David Lewis was issued with a stop notice by the local planning authority he continued to work and faced six separate charges relating to work on various separate days. St Albans Magistrates’ Court fined him £3,500 for each separate offence, £1,000 higher than the £20,000 maximum for a single offence of this type.

On appeal the High Court held that there was nothing more to be gained by considering whether there was an error of law, but gave its views obiter. In the Courts opinion s187(1A) TCPA 1990 does not prevent multiple convictions for breaches of a single stop notice. Otherwise on the strict wording of s.187(1A) the following could arise:

1. on acquittal for a first breach no further charge could be brought at all;

2. the developer could effectively do what they wanted following a first charge being brought and prior to conviction.

This would make nonsense of the legislation.  Definitely one for authorities and developers to keep in mind.

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