Planning Enforcement- vacation of guilty pleas and subsequent Not Guilty verdict

Planning Enforcement- vacation of guilty pleas and subsequent Not Guilty verdict

Quentin was approached to represent Mr AK and Mr AR, two relatives who owned a rental property in the Borough of Newham. At that stage the two gentlemen had already entered Guilty pleas to failure to comply with a planning enforcement notice contrary to s179 of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990. The defendants were due to be sentenced and approached Quentin as they were unhappy with their current representation and wished to gain an expert second opinion on their legal position.

A conference was arranged in Quentin’s Chambers and discussions were held about the case, the availability of defences and the pleas that had been entered. Quentin was not impressed with the standard of representation that the defendants had received and it was decided that Quentin would take over representation and a vacation of plea application would be made. Quentin set about collecting all the documentation from the previous representatives and made a CPR compliant application to vacate Guilty plea before the Snaresbrook Crown Court. The basis for the application was insufficient and inept previous representation and the availability of a statutory defence to the charge leading to an equivocal plea. A detailed bundle of evidence in support of the application was collected and collated by Quentin together with a comprehensive skeleton argument outlining the legal position. Both were served upon the Court and the prosecution.

The application was opposed by the prosecution and the matter was listed for a full hearing before the Snaresbrook Crown Court. At the hearing the defendants gave evidence and the Court was taken through the evidence in minute detail. At the conclusion of the hearing the Crown Court judge took the exceptional step of vacating the pleas of both defendants and allowing them to enter Not Guilty pleas to the charges. The matter was then adjourned for a trial to take place.

In the meantime, Quentin made a forceful series of written and oral submissions to the prosecution in respect of continuing the case, focussing on their application of the Code for Crown Prosecutors.  He submitted that they would not have a reasonable prospect of conviction if they continued and that the prosecution was not in the public interest. Following taking time to consider Quentin’s submissions the Prosecution decided that they were not going to pursue the Prosecution against both defendants and at a hearing at Snaresbrook Crown Court formally offered no evidence against the defendants meaning that Not Guilty verdicts were entered in their cases and they were acquitted of all charges.

Quentin Hunt is a Criminal Barrister with a wealth of experience in the legally difficult area of the vacation of Guilty pleas, he is also an expert in Planning Enforcement cases. If you find yourself in need of advice or representation in either of these areas you may contact Quentin for a no obligation discussion about your case.