Guilty until proved innocent

Published: Wednesday, 09 July 2014

A GOOD many boaters I know that have decided to 'cruise off into the sunset of their lives', in effect live the 'dream' promised by glowing advertising, are retired or semi-retired, writes Pam Pickett.

Not all have 'deep pockets'. That 'dream' given the changing face of our waterways today, can I'm afraid, therefore only too quickly become a nightmare for any then facing issues of fitness, and with a need to moor, may find themselves on the radar of CaRT Enforcement.

Avoiding the pitfalls

In order to avoid the pitfalls I hope the the following two instances may serve as a wake up call for the 'I'm alright Jack's'—'doing it right' amongst you, for whilst the Trust was happy to be preaching 'compassion and care' during the visit of HRH The Prince of Wales, from where I'm looking compassion of any sort on the part of the Trust is in very short supply indeed.


Only last week an elderly and injured boater, Tony Ball, was accused of overstaying on a 48hr mooring. He had actually (and proven beyond question) been on that mooring for less than an hour.

Having been on the receiving end of the CaRT's 'compassion' in the past when he was suffering a severe arm and shoulder injury only to be told that as he had a 'home' address the Trust could take his boat without recourse to the courts, he was obviously a very frightened man when Enforcement Officer Stuart Garner again knocked on his boat. Had this experienced Enforcement Officer known his job, (in order for the boat to have been turned and facing the opposite way it had to have travelled at least five miles) the mistake couldn't have been made and this boater would not have had to spend a considerable amount of time proving his innocence.

Nor would Tony Ball now be considering a claim of harassment against the Trust! Mistakes of this sort can change lives, and only too easily end up leaving a boater homeless!

Normal procedure for the Trust?

Leaving a boater homeless is therefore something I wish to comment on. I recently had the need to contact the trust Chief Executive Richard Parry with regard to necessary paperwork found not to have been attached to court papers served on Tony Dunkley by the Trust, a boater with a home mooring. I asked Richard Parry if this was normal procedure for the Trust, having as I said noted there seemed to have been either a non-attendance at previous cases, or no defence of any sort offered.

Rubber stamping?

Richard Parry replied that he wouldn't wish the Trust to be thought to be managing its legal cases incorrectly. I replied neither would I as at this moment in time I felt that boaters may feel that following the serving of the PART 8 notice of proceedings by the Trust and given the omission of the Acknowledgement of Service form and its accompanying instructions on how to proceed, it could appear that it was then asking the court to virtually 'rubber stamp' the case for it. (The PART 8 proceedings refer to a case that is thought unlikely to be contested.)

The boater concerned, Tony Dunkley, then received the required forms to which he was entitled, but by email. With no printing facility he waited for the hard copies to arrive, as they did, three and a quarter hours before the court was to close on the last date for the forms to be lodged! Here best I leave it to others to interpret the reasons for the omissions, and the delays . . . .

"Going to remove your boat"

Prior to the commencement of the Hearing, Miss Barry, Solicitor acting for the Trust approached Tony Dunkley, the Defendant and asked him to read the papers she had brought to the court. A glance showed Tony Dunkley that the papers were in the same format as those used in previous PART 8 cases shown on the CaRT website, so he declined to read them. He was then told, and I quote:

"But Mr Dunkley you really must read these papers because this is what we are going to do today. We are going to obtain an injunction to remove your boat from CaRT's waters."

CaRT admonished by judge

Only later when the Judge asked if the Solicitor had a copy of the Defendant's Witness Statement did it become apparent to the Solicitor for the Trust that a defence had been lodged with the court, Tony Dunkley having previously sought the missing necessary Acknowledgement of Service form from the court. The Judge then advised CaRT that a PART 8 action should not have been brought, and that further proceedings may be very expensive for one of the parties, as he thought the case may require at least a two days hearing. The Judge then asked Tony Dunkley if he was to be represented. Tony Dunkley said no, this was unaffordable.

And all because

Who therefore I ask is to pay the no doubt extortionate legal costs should this, the first test case for a boater with a home mooring (no doubt to be the first of many) go ahead, when the defendant who the Judge has now granted a further 21 days to complete his defence is unable to even afford legal representation? We are? Again at the expense of maintenance of the system? And all because CaRT maintains that a boater with a validated home mooring must use it!