Court of Appeal to hear water industry statutory construction dispute

On 2 March 2018, Daniel Toledano QC (sitting as Deputy High Court Judge) granted Boots UK Ltd permission to appeal to the Court of Appeal against his order giving summary judgment against Boots’ overcharging claim against Severn Trent Water Ltd.

Boots has brought a claim valued (with interest) at c.£20m on the basis that, since 1974, Severn Trent has overcharged Boots for the drainage of trade effluent from its manufacturing headquarters in Nottingham. Central to Boots’ claim is the proper construction of the definition of “trade effluent” in s.141(1) of the Water Industry Act 1991 and of the provisions of Severn Trent’s Charges Scheme that purport to allow it to deem the metered volume of liquid on which its trade effluent charges are based. Severn Trent successfully applied for summary judgment on these two points of law; the other bases of its application failed.

In granting Boots’ permission to appeal on these two construction issues, the Judge stated that the appeal (in addition to having a real prospect of success) raises a point of statutory interpretation on which there is no direct authority, as well as issues of general public importance, that are of concern to all water companies and their customers. The appeal is due to be heard over 2 days in early 2019.

Jonathan Davies-Jones QC and Christopher Bond act for Boots, instructed by DLA Piper UK LLP.

For a copy of the Commercial Court’s Judgment click here.