Surprise at the Crown Court this morning as the hearing of the Vestas Blades UK Ltd Vs Arbuthnott case was adjourned until the 4th August.
The defence, James Fieldsend, raised two points
Problems with servicing of the possession order
They were not personally served, the only person served was Mark Smith.
The hearing was premature
The deemed date of service was not the actual service date, because it was served after 4pm.
The earliest the hearing should have been is tomorrow (Wednesday)
The claimant said the possession orders were served on Mark Smith and copies left at the premises. Their argument was that it only had to be served on one person and that this was good enough because it was not a residential property.
His Honour, Judge White’s response was that there were 13 people named on the order and all 13 people needed to be served personally.
There then followed a detailed discussion between the claimant and the judge, whereby the claimant argued that all names could be removed from the order and they still be served. The Judge’s response “Isn’t that a way of getting around the rules?”
“Once you know who they are you have to serve them and your arguments don’t sound very attractive to me.”
On the point of timing, the claimant said the Judge would have been able to shorten the time and was invited “to exercise his power.”
The claimant said that there was “real risk of disturbance” if the workers were allowed to stay on the Vestas site and the Judge asked are there “any threats?” and the claimant replied that he understood that there was a substantial police presence.
The Judge then said if that’s the case then they’re “likely to be able to contain” any trouble. He then posed the question “no kettling then?”
Defence then said the reasons put forward by the claimant were not sufficiently compelling. “It’s up to the claimant to make sure that it’s within the rules.”
He continued that there had been no disturbance in the nine days of occupation. They (the claimant) have taken the option to serve on individuals.
The Judge replied “I agree, as far as service is concerned the rules are clear. Where it is not residential, two clear days are needed.”
He saw “no compelling reason” to shorten the number of days.
He continued that there was “no evidence of any threat.”
“Not to say I sanction the occupation.”
“Any named individual must be personally served. I am not satisfied that they (the possession orders) have been performed correctly.”
“This cannot be rectified by deleting names from the order – that is simply to get around the rules.”
He finished by saying “It’s most appropriate to adjourn.”
The claimant argued that there was the option for the claimant to discontinue and wanted to change the order to become ‘persons unknown’. The Judge said that he was “distinctly uncomfortable” with it and again repeated that it appeared to be a way of getting around the rules.
The claimant said that the names had been “tentatively identified”. The Judge exclaimed that they’re “not tentative” the claimant knows who they are because they had been named on the order.
The Judge continued “The claimants have to make up their minds”, “I do expect them to get their facts straight.”
The claimant then wanted to go under ‘application under alternative means’ saying it would be a most futile exercise to serve the papers to their (the workers) home as they were not there.
The Judge asked if the claimants could gain access to the premises and was told by the claimant that they were secured from the inside. The defence said that the rules make it clear and that the claimant had presented no evidence that they couldn’t gain access to the building and that notice must be given to him.
The defence stated “The claimant hasn’t got its house in order.”
The Judge replied “Proper notice must be given supported by evidence.” and continued to confirm that the notice period needed was three clear days. If the order was issued and served today, that would be Tuesday 4th August at 10am.