Litigation Recent Decisions 29/11/94

Defence to polluting controlled waters

National Rivers Authority v Yorkshire Water Services (1994) (HL 17/11/94) (Lord MacKay LC: Lord Keith, Lord Jauncey, Lord Lloyd, Lord Nolan)

Summary: Statutory defence to involuntary pollution of controlled waters where unknown third party had introduced pollutant to defendant's sewage system.

Appeal by Yorkshire Water Services against upholding of conviction by justices for causing poisonous noxious or polluting matter to enter controlled water contrary to s.107(1)(a) Water Act 1989 (now repealed with provisions re-enacted in altered form by the Water Resources Act 1991), where a third party had unlawfully discharged iso-octanol into the appellant's sewers during the night resulting in a significant proportion of this pollutant passing into controlled waters.