Case details

R (on the application of Mott) (Respondent) v Environment Agency (Appellant)

Case ID: UKSC 2016/0148

Case summary


The correct approach to determining

  1. whether there has been a de facto expropriation amounting to a breach of the right to peaceful enjoyment of possessions under Article 1 of the First Protocol to the European Convention on Human Rights ("A1P1") and
  2. when compensation must be paid to avoid a breach of A1P1 in circumstances where the interference in question is imposed on environmental grounds.

Mr Mott has a lease to fish for salmon in the Severn estuary using a putcher rank, an ancient method of fishing. In 2012 to 2014, the Environment Agency ("the Agency") imposed annual limits on the number of salmon Mr Mott can catch ("the catch conditions"). The effect has been to reduce his average annual catch of 600 salmon (which provided him with a gross annual income of around £60,000) by about 95%. The Agency imposed the catch conditions pursuant to its regulatory duties under the Habitats Directive, Council Directive 92/43/EEC because it considered that it was necessary to do so for the protection of salmon fisheries in the River Wye, a Special Area of Conservation. Mr Mott considered that the effect of the catch conditions was to render his business uneconomic and the lease worthless and challenged the conditions in two applications for judicial review. At first instance, the judge allowed both claims on the basis that

  1. the Agency’s decisions were based on flawed evidence and were therefore irrational and
  2. the catch conditions amounted, in reality, to a deprivation of Mr Mott’s right to fish under the lease and, in the absence of compensation, constituted a disproportionate burden and a breach of his A1P1 rights. The Court of Appeal allowed the Agency’s appeal in respect of the irrationality ground and upheld the judge’s conclusions in respect of the breach of A1P1.
Judgment appealed

[2016] EWCA Civ 564



Environment Agency


Nigel Mott



Lady Hale, Lord Kerr, Lord Carnwath, Lady Black, Lord Briggs

Hearing start date

13 Dec 2017

Hearing finish date

13 Dec 2017

Watch hearing
13 Dec 2017 Morning session Afternoon session