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Planning Prosecution of “Directors of a Corporate Director” Discontinued

Gregory Jones QC
Annabel Graham Paul

In an unusual scenario, the London Borough of Waltham Forest issued summonses against four Directors of an Isle of Man company, which, itself, was the sole corporate director of two companies who had failed to comply with planning enforcement notices requiring the removal of unlawful flats at various rental properties. 

A preliminary issue arose as to whether it is permissible, in law, to prosecute such individuals under s. 179 and s. 331 of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990. Section 179 makes it an offence for an owner of a property to fail to comply with a planning enforcement notice. Section 331 provides that, where an offence is committed by a company, a director of the company will be guilty of the offence where it has been proved to have been committed with the consent and connivance of, or to be attributable to any neglect on the part of, the director. 

The question then to be asked is whether it is possible to use s. 331 to prosecute not only a director of the owner company, but also a director of the corporate director of the owner company. The accused argued in the skeleton argument that it was not, based on principles of statutory interpretation and by reference to the law on the position of corporate directors for tax liability in Revenue and Customs Commissioners v Holland [2010] UKSC 51. It was also argued that there were various abuses of process in bringing the prosecution, including jurisdictional issues arising from the accused being resident in the Isle of Man as well as prosecuting directors of a company without having prosecuted the director company itself . 

The Council discontinued the prosecution and so no determination has been made by the Court on these matters. 

Gregory Jones QC and Annabel Graham Paul acted for the Isle of Man Directors, instructed by Jay Das of Wedlake Bell.

For further information about the issues that arose, please do get in touch with Gregory Jones QC or Annabel Graham Paul.