High Court Continues Interim Injunction Against Environmental Protestors

Oil refinery Valero Case

On Friday 20 January 2023, the High Court continued an interim injunction granted to Valero Energy to prevent protesters blockading its oil refinery and key terminals. This is the first in a series of continuation hearings related to injunctions granted early last year in response to non violent direct-action protest by campaign groups targeted at sites owned or operated by those involved in or connected with the oil industry and past statements of intention by environmental protest campaign groups - including Just Stop Oil - to engage in confrontational direct action activities.

Mr. Justice Soole considered whether the requirements for precautionary relief remained satisfied, having regard to the test summarised by Knowles J in HS2 v Persons Unknown [2022] EWHC 2360 (and supplemented by Marcus Smith J in Vastint Leeds BV v Persons Unknown [2019] 4 WLR 2) and by Johnson J in Shell Oil Products Ltd v Persons Unknown [2022] EWHC 1215 in relation to the application of s.12(3) HRA 1988. He was satisfied, on the evidence, that there continued to be a real and imminent risk of serious harm in respect of all of the sites covered by the injunction and the harm which would be caused if the injunction was breached included harm which was so irreparable that damages would be inadequate.

The judge emphasised the importance of personal service on named defendants in such cases and the substantive requirement of the law of contempt that injunctions be served personally unless the court orders otherwise. He considered that the court was unlikely to be satisfied that there was a ‘good reason’ to authorise service by other means pursuant to CPR r.16.15(1) in the absence of evidence that it was “practically impossible” to serve Named Defendants’ (citing Nicklin J in MBR Acres Ltd v Free the MBR Beagles [2021] EWHC 2996).

The court will reconsider whether the injunction should be continued further early next year.

Myriam Stacey KC and Joel Semakula acted for Valero, instructed by Shoosmiths LLP.

Press coverage of this case may be found BBC NewsThe Guardian and the Daily Mail.

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