Joseph Barrett successful in landmark ‘Clean Air Zone’ legal challenge


Neology UK Ltd v The Council of the City of Newcastle Upon Tyne & Ors [2020] EWHC 2958 (TCC) (06 November 2020)

Joseph Barrett of 11KBW acted successfully for the Defendants in: (i) resisting the Claimant’s application for summary judgment, and (ii) lifting the automatic suspension on contract-making, in respect to a significant project to establish one of the first UK ‘Clean Air Zones’ (“CAZs”) in respect of the Newcastle and Tyneside local authority areas.

The CAZ programme is the UK Government’s chosen method of achieving significant reductions in levels of nitrogen dioxide in the outdoor air of major UK cities, in order to comply with obligations under EU law (Directive 2008/50/EU (the Air Quality Directive)).

The Claimant in the proceedings, Neology, contended that there were various errors and flaws in the evaluation of tender responses relating to the delivery of the CAZ.

Neology sought summary judgment and also attempted to maintain the automatic suspension preventing award of the contract in relation to the CAZ, contending that winning the contract was critical to its UK business strategy, and that not being awarded the contract would cause it to withdraw from the UK market.

In a detailed written judgment, running to some 141 paragraphs, the High Court (Kerr J) dismissed Neology’s application for summary judgment and granted the Authorities’ application to lift the automatic suspension. The Judge found, inter alia, that: (i) the case came ‘nowhere near’ to meeting the summary judgment standard, (ii) Neology’s evidence suggesting that not being awarded the contract would cause it to withdraw from the UK market was weak and unconvincing, and (iii) if necessary, the Court would have held that the weighty public interest in improving air quality for the people of Tyneside required that the suspension should be lifted.

Joseph Barrett of 11KBW has acted as sole counsel for the Authorities throughout the proceedings.

The judgment can be found here.