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Full hearing into FITs decision granted in court

Date: 19 Dec 2011

At the end of last week, Solar Century, HomeSun and environmental group Friends of the Earth won permission to seek a ruling in the High Court that the decision to slash FITs payments was unlawful.

Mr Justice Mitting recognised the "economic risk" that solar companies face as a result of the sudden cuts announced, and allowed the three claimants a full hearing on Tuesday and Wednesday this week.

The hearing will consider two points raised by the claimants - asking whether the "eligibility date" of 12th December (11 days before the end of the consultation period) means the change is retrospective and if so, whether a retrospective change is legal.  He will also examine whether the changes breach property rights under the European Charter of Human Rights.

The three claimants had also argued that the changes were disproprotionate, and that the consultation was unlawful because Ministers had effectively decided the outcome before the consultation was completed.  The judge did not rule out future challenges on these points, but told the court that gathering the necessary evidence to hear these claims would mean delaying any hearing until some time in the New Year.

The court room was pretty full to hear the case - though a few more people could have squeezed in.  If you are interested in watching the full hearing at the Royal Courts of Justice on the Strand, the hearing on Tuesday will run from 10.30am to 4.30pm, and on Wednesday from 10.30-1pm at the latest.  The court number is not yet allocated, but ask at the information desk when you arrive, or email and I will pass on details as soon as I have them.  As before, I will let you know of any last minute changes to the timing of the case, and also keep a running tally to warn you if the room is looking massively over-subscribed.