Friends of the Earth wins right to bike

Blackstone Chambers’ Michael Fordham and Friends of the Earth’s Rights & Justice Centre have won a High Court victory on behalf of hundreds of cyclists.

Friends of the Earth’s in-house lawyer Phil Michaels instructed Fordham on a pro bono basis to bring the case for cyclist Des Kay against the Metropolitan police.

Kay is one of hundreds of participants in the ‘Critical Mass’ cycle ride which takes place in London on the last Friday of each month.

The police claimed that the rides are in contravention of the Public Order Act 1986 because there is no organiser or predetermined route and because no advance notice of the gathering is given.

But this morning (27 June) Lord Justice Sedley and Mr Justice Gray found that because the rides take place each month they have become “common and customary” and are therefore exempt from the legislation.

In the judgment Sedley LJ said: “This is a friendly action, but it is brought for a serious reason. Each side has agreed not to seek costs against the other if it wins, and the claimant’s counsel is donating his services, because the shared purpose is to get the law clear about an issue of some public importance before anything goes wrong.”

The monthly ride can now go ahead as normal on Friday.

The Metropolitan Police in-house solicitor instructed Jason Beer of 5 Essex Court.

Fordham is one of six barristers nominated as ‘Barrister of the Year’ at this evening’s Lawyer Awards for work including the Critical Mass case.