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I have just spotted that the original Code of Practice on Litter 1990 says that a citizen, as well as applying to the Magistrates Court for an EPA S91 Litter Abatement Order, can, if there is a persistent failure or wilful refusal of a duty body to discharge its statutory duty to keep its highways and land clear of litter,  apply to the High Court for Judicial Review of that body’s actions.

This is the whole of its section on enforcement:

In the great majority of cases those under the duty will wish to achieve the highest possible standards of cleanliness. However, the Act makes provision for the occasion when a body under the duty may not discharge it adequately. Under section 91 a citizen aggrieved by the presence of litter or refuse on land to which the duty applies may, after giving five days’ written notice, apply to the magistrates’ court (or, inScotland, the Sheriff) for a ‘litter abatement order’ requiring the person under the duty to clear away the litter or refuse from the area which is the subject of the complaint. Failure to comply with a litter abatement order may result in a fine (with additional fines accruing for each day the area remains littered). Any person contemplating enforcement action should not just consider the presence of litter but is advised to consider whether the body in question is complying with the standards in the Code before notifying them, since, under section 91(11) the Code is admissible in evidence in any court proceedings brought under that section.

It may be thought that the requirement on the part of the aggrieved citizen to give the duty body five days’ notice before bringing an action, together with the inevitable delay between summons and hearing, will in practice allow a duty body far longer – maybe several months – to deal with accumulations of litter than the period of hours contemplated (for the most part) by this Code (see below). This is not so. Firstly, the courts are specifically empowered (under section 91(12)) to award costs to a complainant where the court is satisfied that at the time the complaint was made to if the land was defaced by litter or refuse – even if the land is clean at the time the case comes to court. Secondly, a citizen aggrieved by the persistent failure or wilful refusal of a duty body to discharge its duty would be entitled to apply to the High Court or, in Scotland, to the Court of Session, for Judicial Review of that body’s actions.

Peter Silverman
Litter – the big Westminster cover up
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