Date: Fri, 29 Aug 2014 07:14:08 +0200
- Journal of Environmental Law - advance access
The Meaning of 'Deposit': Thames Water v Bromley Magistrates' Court
The recent decision of the High Court (Administrative Court) in Thames Water v Bromley Magistrates’ Court  EWHC 472 (Admin),  Env LR 25 exemplifies the tensions present in the interpretation of environmental offences. The court’s conclusion that unintended escapes can be deposits for the purposes of section 33(1)(a) Environmental Protection Act 1990 is based on faulty reasoning, both as a matter of authority, and as a matter of policy. The appeal of taking a purposive approach to such an interpretative task is apparent, but so too are the dangers of taking an expansive approach. The decision is based on an approach that leads to unacceptable uncertainty and which should not be adopted in future cases. This case note discusses the results of treating the definition of ‘deposit’ as a question of fact, not law; the practicability of taking a ‘purposive approach’ to this definition; and the relevance of the criminal law context.