Case Dismissed: Local Authority’s Misguided Prosecution of Property Owners for Unauthorise Advertisements

This week, The Wilkes Partnerships Planning Team successfully defended property owners against a prosecution by a local authority for unauthorised advertisements. Our team of experienced lawyers specialise in planning enforcement, providing invaluable counsel and representation to clients in similar situations.
The case centred around unauthorised advertisements aiming to promote a local business to rebound from the COVID-19 pandemic. These signs, positioned along a highway, caught the notice of local residents who then reported it to the council, triggering a legal response under the single justice procedure.
In the UK, there are laws and regulations in place to govern the display of advertisements, as they could have an impact on the amenity and public safety. The local authority, in charge of enforcing these rules, decided to take legal action against the property owners, presuming they were responsible for the advertisements. Even after the adverts were removed, the council chose to pursue a prosecution for 28 days’ worth of advertisement displays, an action seen as excessive.
The property owners initially planned to invoke the Town and Country Planning Act 1990, Sections 224, stating their lack of knowledge about the advertisements displayed by the business. They intended to provide evidence that they had not been informed or consulted regarding the advertisements placement and had essentially been caught in a legal battle they did not initiate.
However, Wilkes’ Planning Team successfully exposed flaws in the authority’s approach. By highlighting the authority’s focus on prosecuting property owners rather than the business responsible for the adverts, the authority overlooked the details of the Advertisement Regulations and ultimately failed in their legal action. The case concluded with Wilkes being successful in defending and the magistrates dismissed the charges against the property owners.
This case serves as a reminder to prosecuting authorities of the necessity of precision and due diligence in legal enforcement. It underscores the importance of thorough investigations and directing legal action at the correct parties. Wilkes Planning Team’s success in this case reaffirms their commitment to ensuring clients are not unfairly targeted.
Speaking on this case, Partner in the Wilkes Planning team, Leenamari Aantaa-Collier said,

“Many councils are eager to prosecute advertisement law violations, with potential penalties of £2500 per advertisement and a criminal record. This case serves as a cautionary tale for businesses in the hospitality sector and others seeking to advertise locally, emphasising the need for careful consideration and compliance with Advertising Legislation. Seeking legal guidance early can help businesses navigate advertising regulations effectively and stay in compliance.”

 Wilkes continues to be committed to assisting businesses through advertising legal challenges, providing expert advice and representation to protect their interests. For more information or enquiries regarding advertisement planning matters, contact Leenamari Aantaa-Collier (Partner) at [email protected] .

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