Misfeasance claim against highways officer dismissed: Perma-Soil UK Ltd v Williams and Flintshire CC



HHJ Keyser QC, sitting in the Mercantile Court in Wales, handed down a judgment today dismissing a claim for misfeasance in public office against Mr Keith Williams, a senior street works engineer, and his employer, Flintshire County Council. The claimant company manufactured a product which could be mixed with material taken from the highway during the course of civil engineering works in order to reinstate it in an environmentally friendly manner. The case concerned an allegation that Mr Williams had arranged with the directors of a civil engineering company to set up a rival manufacturer in competition with the company, leading to it losing business.

Following a four day trial, the judge rejected the allegations of misfeasance. He acquitted Mr Williams of having received payment from the directors of the rival company or of having a financial interest in it. He held that it had been legitimate for Mr Williams to have told his colleagues at the council that the rival company’s product was materially identical, which had led to informal permission being granted for its use in the council’s area. He also largely rejected the claimant company’s case on quantum, stating that he would only have awarded about £35,000 of the claimant’s pleaded losses of in excess of £500,000.

Paul Stagg of 1 Chancery Lane represented the defendants

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