Oliver Powell appears in significant maritime test case on VMS
Oliver Powell, instructed by Ashfords LLP, appeared for Laura D Fishing Limited, South West Trawlers Limited and two private individuals, in respect of a prosecution brought by the Devon & Severn Inshore Fisheries & Conservation Authority (‘D&SIFCA’).
It was D&SIFCA’s case that the two fishing vessels concerned had dredged for scallops within areas where such fishing was prohibited, and at such times, when such fishing was prohibited. The Crown sought to prove its case by relying on vessel monitoring system (‘VMS’) evidence. It said that the jury could be sure of the alleged illegality by virtue of evidence of the position, course, speed and direction etc. of the fishing vessels, at the material times. The trial heard evidence from two eminent experts, Edwin Derriman OBE and Nigel Blazeby.
Following a three week trial before the Honorary Recorder of Gloucester, HHJ Lawrie QC, a jury returned 32 verdicts of not guilty. There were a further 8 counts upon which verdicts could not be reached. The Crown have indicated that they will not be seeking a retrial on these matters.
The case generated a considerable amount of national interest, not least because the Crown placed heavy reliance on VMS evidence to prove its case. The result is likely to have far reaching ramifications for other matters currently waiting to be heard by the courts.
Outer Temple Chambers continues to show its strength in maritime regulatory work, with members providing an authoritative specialism in marine & fisheries law.
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Barristers: Oliver Powell