Continuous cruising judgement published

INLAND WATERWAYS: Bristol County Court issued the final and complete judgement in the case of British Waterways (BW) v Paul Davies that will set a national precedent on continuous cruisers, writes Harry Arnold.

The judgement, handed down on 13 April, clarifies licence and mooring rules as applied to continuous cruisers. In a later hearing on 31 March Mr Davies’ counsel requested that his client be allowed six months to secure a permanent mooring or look at a number of alternatives.

 

But the judge reinforced his original opinion by a court order that Mr Davies should only be allowed until 30 June 2011 to remove his boat Biddy or comply with BW’s licensing requirement. Non-compliance with the order is contempt of court and could lead to a fine or a prison sentence.

Following the court decision BW has issued a revision to its original 2004 Mooring Guidance for Continuous Cruisers. The three main legal requirements are that:

 

1. The boat must genuinely be used for navigation throughout the period of the licence.

2. Unless a shorter time is specified by notice the boat must not stay in the same place for more than 14 days (or such longer period as is reasonable in the circumstances); and

3. It is the responsibility of the boater to satisfy BW that the above requirements are met.

 

The three page document goes on to define the terms used in these basic requirements such as “navigation” and “place”; the latter being quite difficult to define. It firmly states, however, that navigation means a journey of some length and shuttling back and to along a short stretch of waterway – known as bridge hopping – does not meet the legal requirements of continuous cruising.

 

BW will consult with user groups on these proposed new requirements at a meeting on 23 June 2011. The problem will be, as always, enforcing these rules, as a large number of supposed continuous cruisers who have employment locally simply shuttle up and down or completely defy mooring rules by staying in one place without permission.

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