Court of Appeal holds that fines imposed for breaching enforcement notices are not manifestly excessive

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In Western Trading Ltd and Another v R [2020] EWCA Crim 1234, the Court of Appeal considered the level of fine imposed on a company and its sole director, following their guilty pleas to breaches of a listed building enforcement notice and a planning enforcement notice.

Western Trading Ltd owned the freehold of a Grade II listed building and had undertaken works to the building without planning permission or listed building consent. Birmingham City Council issued a listed building enforcement notice and planning enforcement notice in April 2014 which required remedial works to be carried out. Western Trading Limited appealed against the listed building enforcement notice and planning enforcement notice, both of which were refused by the planning inspectorate. Three years after the date for compliance, Birmingham City Council began prosecution proceedings against Western Trading Limited.

The Court of Appeal dismissed the appeal and held that fines of £25,000 imposed on claimant and its sole director, following their guilty pleas to breaches of enforcement notices, were not manifestly excessive. The Court of Appeal held that the combination of the attempted avoidance of the costs of remedial works, and the non-compliance with the enforcement notices for over three years, justified the £40,000 starting point adopted by the Judge. It also held that the reduction from that starting point adequately reflected the guilty pleas and the fact that remedial works had been carried out following a deferment of sentence.