At Weightmans, we act for a number of water companies, providing a full range of legal services. We also represent a variety of companies in their dealings with the water sector, for example utilities contractors, industry innovators, national housebuilders, developers and landowners.
Our team comprises experts who are recognised in their specialist fields, with substantial experience of acting on high profile projects both at Weightmans and other leading UK law firms.
We recognise the challenges placed on the sector by climate change, increasing customer expectations, and affordability. We understand the pressures imposed by Ofwat and other regulators such as the EA, NRW and DWI, as well as from other stakeholder groups, and not least from customers.
We pride ourselves on our close association with the water sector. The experience of our team means our water lawyers possess an in-depth and unrivalled knowledge of the sector, as well as its statutory and regulatory framework.
We know the absolute focus that the water sector has on delivering exceptional customer service and we work with our water sector clients to help them to deliver the highest standards of customer service and to achieve their goals.
Through our work, we have developed a detailed knowledge and understanding of:
- the work of Ofwat including price reviews and regulatory investigations;
- the Water Industry Act and the powers and duties that water companies have;
- the physical water infrastructure and associated rights/responsibilities; and
- the risks associated with operating in today’s sensitive environment.
We can support you with any issue that you encounter, offering expertise and insights in water law and regulation. This includes:
- Water law and regulation
- Commercial contracts
- Renewable energy and decarbonisation
- Environment and sustainability
- Real estate and planning
- Health & safety
- Employment, pensions and immigration
Services for Water Undertakers and Retailers
- Business Retail Reform — advising on competition, regulatory, commercial, procurement, corporate and employment issues associated with the opening of the non-household retail market, preparation of a template scheme for transfer of rights and liabilities from wholesaler to retailer.
- New appointments and variations — advising on all aspects of applications for new appointments and variations; preparation of bulk supply and bulk discharge agreements.
- Private sewers — advising on the statutory scheme for transfer of private sewers and lateral drains, including competition law implications, operational issues, and the appeal process.
- Water treatment plant construction — advising on a multi-million pound dispute arising out of a design and build contract of a major UK water treatment plant.
- Regulatory investigations — advising water and sewerage undertakers on investigations by Ofwat using Water Industry Act and Competition Act powers.
- Renewable energy — advising on the development of wind turbines to power wastewater treatment facilities.
- Reservoirs — advising on the legal obligations and risks associated with the operation of reservoirs.
- Third party claims — advising on the management of post-incident claims following infrastructure failure and damage, including multiple claims in relation to bursts and leaks associated with the ‘Beast from the East’.
- Pollution — advising on enforcement action and prosecutions arising from water pollution events and environmental damage, including civil sanctions.
- Prosecutions — advising on and prosecuting trade effluent and other offences under the Water Industry Act and Water Supply (Water Fittings) Regulations 1999.
- GDPR — the provision of data protection advice in relation to customers and their details.
- Compensation claims — advising on business disruption claims under Schedule 12 of the Water Industry Act.
- Escapes of water — we have expertise in cases involving escape of water under section 209 Water Industry Act, in particular from reservoirs and including a water company’s liability under Rylands v Fletcher, nuisance and negligence.
- Asset damage — advising in connection with asset damage and recoverability of complex losses involving a novel point on recoverability of Outcome Delivery Incentives.
- Statutory powers — advising on powers and duties of water and sewerage undertakers under the Water Industry Act.
- Street works — experience in disputes arising under the New Roads and Street Works Act 1991.
- Complaints — advising in relation to consumer complaints made to Ofwat and Consumer Council for Water.
Services in relation to the Water Industry
Case Study — Local Authority
Instructed by a local authority following the construction of a new development in close proximity to a previously unidentified water main. Advice provided upon access rights, statutory diversion procedures and legal remedies.
Case Study — Developer
Advice to developer in respect of work delays regarding a water mains connection and water mains diversion (to facilitate sewer connection). Consideration of water company duties and options for resolution and redress in respect of each works requirement. Advice upon practical measures to progress works through direct communications with the relevant water company/its contractors and options for redress through the Consumer Council for Water (CCW) and Ofwat.
Case Study — Tertiary Treatment Provider
Support to the provider of tertiary treatment services for final effluent (the product of waste company treatment process) using nutrient treatment methods. Advice provided upon adoption rights in respect of the physical infrastructure, associated procedure and practical considerations for development.
Case Study — Private Business
Advice upon water company powers in respect of physical infrastructure located on the business’ land and impact upon proposed operations, including advice upon compensation provisions within the Minerals Code.
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