2017-18 case summaries

This page includes summaries of completed investigations and will be updated as cases are completed

Case No 956 – complaint about the issue of a restricted six month licence for a boat without a home mooring

Mr A was issued with a restricted six month licence on the basis that he had failed to comply with the continuous cruising guidelines. His view was that the CRT had arbitrarily and inappropriately increased the required cruising range from 20km to the current 15-20 miles. He said that despite having an agreement with the Trust that he would be able to maintain his previous cruising pattern, it had broken the agreement. He also said that his complaint had not been completed within the published timescales.

Some time ago, Mr A had sent to the CRT what he called an Estoppel Agreement, which stated that he would continue navigating as he had done unless the CRT provided certain information and clarification. He said that the Agreement would come into force by default if the CRT did not respond to it (which it didn’t). He added that the failure of the CRT to provide the information would mean that not only he, but other boaters, would be able to cruise in accordance with his assumptions about lawful navigation, that any further harassment would cease, and that the continuous cruising guidance would be amended.

The Estoppel Agreement was a unilateral action by Mr A. I did not consider whether it was enforceable, but noted that even if it could be enforced it was unlikely that it could apply to other boaters. I said that if he did wish to try to enforce the terms of the agreement he could ask a court to adjudicate on the matter. As an Ombudsman, I had to have regard to what was fair and reasonable, and I did not regard the document as committing the CRT to accept his terms.

It seemed to me that Mr A was familiar with the current guidance, even if he disagreed with it. His point was not that the CRT had failed to apply its current guidance correctly, rather that it was to some extent arbitrary and that the CRT had failed to apply it according to the terms of the Agreement. I noted, however, that by purchasing a licence for his boat each year Mr A had agreed to the CRT’s prevailing terms and conditions, which included the guidance for BWHM.

The CRT had made Mr A aware that he had not complied with the guidance, and had issued him with a restricted licence. The guidance is the CRT’s interpretation of the law. I cannot influence its policy, nor could I require it to take a different approach in this case.

On the CRT’s complaints process, the CRT had informed him that there would be a delay in issuing the second level letter but it did keep Mr A informed and he accepted the fact, noting that he would rather the matter was carefully addressed than rushed. The CRT’s complaints process does include the possibility of delays, and while there was one, it was slight and I did not regard it as unacceptable.

I did not uphold the complaint. I could see no reason why Mr A should not have to comply with the current guidance, nor why the CRT should not continue with any appropriate enforcement action if he did not comply.

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