Our services

  • They provide high-quality advice. They are criminal lawyers with a good commercial sense.

    Chambers UK 2015

  • Sources speak of Peter's "stellar reputation," and describe him as "a real doyen of the corporate criminal area and a senior figure with a huge amount of experience."

    Chambers UK 2017

  • Founder David Corker is held in high regard. “He is as top-tier as they come”, affirms one respondent.

    Who’s Who Legal 2016

  • Regarded as ‘one of the top niche crime firms’, Corker Binning offers a service that is ‘second to none’. The ‘extremely talented’ practice head Robert Brown, who ‘always sees the bigger picture’, acted for a number of clients on the Leveson Inquiry.

    Legal 500 2015

  • David Corker is “absolutely fantastic” according to sources, who particularly commend his impressive work on financial crime and cartel investigations.

    Who’s Who Legal: Investigations 2018

  • "She is a class act: measured, practical and highly intelligent."

    Chambers UK 2018

  • Peter Binning is "hugely knowledgeable". 

    Chambers UK 2018

  • They have got a fantastically strong team.

    Chambers UK 2016

Environmental crime

The Environment Agency (EA) is an active prosecutor of small and medium sized businesses, as well as their directors and officers. The financial, practical and reputational damage associated with an EA prosecution is enormous. But the law on which such prosecutions are brought – particularly concerning waste disposal and exports – is often ambiguous. Partly for this reason, the EA has in recent years witnessed the collapse of a number of its prosecutions. As well as misunderstanding the law, the EA has also been criticised for paying little heed to the commercial realities of businesses targeted with a criminal investigation but which have previously received no meaningful guidance or regulatory oversight from the EA.

The EA issued a new Enforcement and Sanctions Policy on 11 April 2018. A key consideration of this policy is the Growth duty which came into effect on 29 March 2017 under the Deregulation Act 2015. It requires regulators to have regard to the need to promote economic growth as well as to promote the protections set out in relevant statute law. This means that there may now be even stronger arguments in favour of a non-criminal disposal than in the past. It is always important to examine carefully whether a negotiated civil penalty can be achieved in place of a criminal prosecution.

If your business learns that it is subject to a criminal investigation by the EA, it is important to instruct a law firm with expertise both in EA prosecutions and the criminal law generally. At Corker Binning we have experience of a number of high-profile EA investigations and prosecutions, including cases brought into environmental incidents including alleged water/air pollution, or cases of alleged non-compliance with waste regulations, including the storage, disposal and export of paper, plastics and metals. We are aware of the evidential issues that often arise in these cases. We have experience of using these issues to persuade the EA not to prosecute.

At Corker Binning we are also able to draw on our wider experience of criminal law to adopt a strategic approach to each case: we know how to prepare company directors for interviews under caution; how businesses should respond to search warrants or informal requests for documentation; how a business can seek to operate despite a criminal investigation; how to analyse evidence forensically with a view to its admissibility and weight in any future criminal trial; how and when to articulate the right line of defence or mitigation; and how best to negotiate a non-prosecution outcome that can be justified by the facts of a particular case.

This last point is particularly important. Businesses are frequently able to avoid prosecution by the EA by accepting a civil penalty under the Regulatory Enforcement and Sanctions Act 2009. The EA regularly uses these penalties, which include monetary penalties, variable monetary penalties, compliance notices, restoration notices, stop notices and enforcement undertakings. We negotiated one of the first enforcement undertakings for a company that breached the Transfrontier Shipment of Waste Regulations.

If a prosecution is unavoidable, we are able to draw on our daily experience of acting in all types of criminal cases in the Magistrates Court and Crown Court. Our advice is realistic and informed by recent developments in the law. All businesses prosecuted by the EA must now take account of the higher sentences available under the Sentencing Council’s Environmental Offences Guideline, which came into force on 1 July 2014. The guideline makes it clear that most environmental offences, if prosecuted, now carry very significant fines and the potential for imprisonment of directors who are regarded as complicit in the commission of an offence. They make the need for expert criminal advice at the earliest stage of an EA criminal investigation all the more important – both in terms of ensuring the business survives but also in terms of protecting the personal liberty of those controlling the business.

More

If you would like to talk about your case with one of our specialists in environmental crime, please call us on 020 7353 6000 and ask to speak to our partners Peter Binning or Andrew Smith.

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