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LAURA ELIZABETH JOHN

BCL (European and Comparative Law) (Oxon), BA (Hons)
CALL DATE: 2007

SUMMARY

Laura advises and represents a wide range of clients across Chambers' core areas of practice, and has particular expertise in Competition and Environmental law.  Legal 500 states that she is 'able, hardworking, responsive and has a very pleasant manner and an excellent grasp of both the big picture and the detail when pursuing a legal case'.

 

Laura is direct access qualified, and can accept instructions directly from clients.  She is also willing to consider acting at reduced rates or pro bono in appropriate cases.

 

1. ENVIRONMENTAL LAW

Laura is a specialist in domestic, European and international environmental law.  She has acted in some of the most high profile environmental challenges brought in the last few years, and has appeared in the Court of Justice of European Union.  She regularly advises on requests for environmental information, on campaign strategies, and on Government policy and decisions.  In appropriate cases, she is happy to consider working at reduced rates or pro bono.  

Recent work includes:

  • Case C-366/10 Air Transport Association of America -v- Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change, judgment dated 21 December 2011, Court of Justice of the European Union. Representing five Environmental Organisations in a challenge brought by the international aviation industry against their inclusion in the EU emissions trading scheme.
  • DCLG v the Information Commissioner and William Robinson [2012] UKUT 103 (AAC). The leading authority on disclosure of legal advice under the Environmental Information Regulations 2004
  • Birkett (on behalf of Clean Air London) v Defra [2011] EWCA Civ 1606. The leading authority on right of public authorities to raise new exemptions, under the Environmental Information Regulations 2004, for the first time before the First Tier Tribunal.
  • Greenpeace -v- Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change: (Administrative Court) application for a judicial review of the Government's ongoing consideration of license applications for deep water oil drilling in the North Sea, in the wake of the BP Deepwater Horizon disaster in the Gulf of Mexico.

Laura has advised on a wide range on environmental issues, including:

  • The reallocation of fishing quotas to benefit the 'under 10 metre' fishing fleet
  • The impact of neonicotinoid pesticides on bees
  • Obligations under European Regulation 1013/2006 on the transfrontier shipment of waste
  • Appealing the grant of a market authorisation under Regulation 1829/2003 on genetically modified food and feed to the European General Court
  • The construction of a power plant within a special area of conservation
  • VAT treatment of recycling companies, in view of the difficulties of tracing supplies through the recycling process (London Wiper Company (t/a Universal Recycling) -v- HMRC [2011] UKFTT 445 (TC))
  • Requiring oil, gas, and mineral extraction companies to publish what they pay governments for their extraction/exploitation licences
  • The removal of the Western Extension of the London Congestion Charging zone
  • The Government's justification of next generation nuclear power plants under Directive 92/29/EURATOM
  • The UK's application for a time extension for compliance with legal standards on dangerous airborne particles (PM10) under Directive 2008/50/EC on Ambient Air Quality
  • Dismantling and recovery of 'ghost ships' and Regulation 1013/2006/EC on shipments of waste

Laura regularly appears in the Information Rights Chamber of the First Tier Tribunal on access to environmental information cases, and is a contributor to the National Council for Voluntary Organisations' guidance on the Freedom of Information Act 2000 and Environmental Information Regulations 2004. 

Before being Called to the Bar Laura was Higher Executive Officer in DEFRA, working on the passage of the Animal Welfare Act 2006 through Parliament.  Prior to that, during her BCL, she was a part-time Research Assistant at the University of Oxford, analysing administrative methods used to secure compliance with different marine environmental protection regimes operating in the Mediterranean (in particular, the EC and IMO/MARPOL regimes).

 

2. COMPETITION (INCLUDING TELECOMS)

Laura advises and represents private clients and regulators across the full spectrum of competition law and is currently involved in some of the most notable cases in this area in the Competition Appeal Tribunal, High Court, Court of Appeal and Supreme Court. 

Recent work, and significant cases, include:

  • National Grid v ABB and others. Acting for the Claimants in the ongoing follow-on action in the Chancery Division concerning the 'gas insulated switchgear' cartel.
  • BCL Old Co. Ltd v BASF plc [2012] UKSC 45. The first competition case to come before the Supreme Court. The case concerned the date on which time begins to run for the purposes of the two year limitation period for bringing follow-on damages claims in the Competition Appeal Tribunal, under section 47A Competition Act 1998, and whether it complies with the EU principles of effectiveness and legal certainty.
  • Emerson Electric -v- Morgan Crucible [2012] EWCA Civ 1559. Case concerning the jurisdiction of the Competition Appeal Tribunal under s.47A Competition Act 1998 to hear damages claims against subsidiary companies within infringing undertakings
  • Electrical Waste Recycling Group and City Electrical Factors v Philips Electronics and Others. A stand-alone damages action in the Chancery Division, alleging breach of Articles 101 and 102 TFEU in the manner in which the lighting industry implemented their obligations under the Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment Directive (Directive 2002/96)
  • Advising the OFT on its infringement decision against British Airways and Virgin for co-ordinating their passenger fuel surcharge pricing on long-haul flights to and from the UK through the exchange of pricing and other commercially sensitive information.
  • Association of Convenience Stores and National Federation of Retail Newsagents v OFT [2012] CAT 27: judicial review in the Competition Appeal Tribunal of an OFT prioritisation decision
  • Carphone Warehouse -v- OFCOM [2010] CAT 26: review of an Ofcom price control, set for access to BT's voice and broadband network
  • Campaign for Real Ale ('CAMRA') -v- OFT: judicial review in the Competition Appeal Tribunal of an OFT refusal to refer a supercomplaint under s.11 Enterprise Act to the Competition Commission
  • National Grid -v- Office of Gas and Electricity Markets (OFGEM) [2010] EWCA Civ 114: The leading authority in the UK on abuse of dominance.

Laura regularly advises on a range of competition law matters, ranging from advice on contractual terms to responding to enquiries from the European Commission. 

Recent work includes advising on:

  • The terms of a computer product provider's licensing agreement
  • Ofcom's sub-loop unbundling Dispute Determination, 15 July 2011
  • Restrictive covenants in land agreements, following the revocation of the Competition Act 1998 (Land Agreements Exclusion and Revocation) Order 2004
  • Disputes under the Telecoms Code regarding positioning of mobile phone equipment
  • Responding to European Commission requests for information
  • Restrictions on advertising discounted prices via the internet and print media
  • The availability of remedies for breach of Article 101 TFEU in courts outside the EU

 

3. EU LAW

Laura is instructed in a range of cases raising questions of EU law, in particular in the environmental and competition law contexts. She regularly advises on EU law issues, including on making complaints to the European Commission and bringing claims in the European Courts. 

Recent work includes:

  • Case C-366/10 Air Transport Association of America -v- Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change, judgment dated 21 December 2011. Representing five Environmental Organisations in a challenge brought by the international aviation industry against their inclusion in the EU emissions trading scheme.
  • BCL Old Co. Ltd v BASF plc [2012] UKSC 45. The first competition case to come before the Supreme Court. The case concerned the date on which time begins to run for the purposes of the two year limitation period for bringing follow-on damages claims in the Competition Appeal Tribunal, under section 47A Competition Act 1998, and whether it complies with the EU principles of effectiveness and legal certainty.
  • Advising on appealing the grant of a market authorisation under Regulation 1829/2003 on genetically modified food and feed to the European General Court.
  • Cases C-259 and 260/10 Rank Group Plc -v- HMRC, judgments of 10 November 2011, on various questions arising from a claim for repayment of VAT paid on machines used to gamble, for a breach of fiscal neutrality.

 

4. PUBLIC & ADMINISTRATIVE LAW

See also:  Environmental law.

Laura advises on a range of public law matters, particularly in the environmental context. 

Recent work includes:

  • Advising on the rights of a statutory water undertaker to make new, increased, or ongoing discharges of water into a managed river system
  • Successful challenge to the British Board of Film Classification ('BBFC') refusal to classify the film "the Human Centipede II (Full Sequence)". The film was granted an 18 certificate in the UK after the BBFC agreed to a number of cuts, reversing its original decision to refuse classification of the controversial horror film on the grounds of sexual violence and graphic gore.
  • Advising on the competition and pricing functions created by the Health and Social Care Act 2012.
  • Frequently appearing in the Information Rights Chamber of the First Tier Tribunal: recent cases include:
  • Breeze v Information Commissioner, Chief Constable of Norfolk Constabulary, and the Crown Prosecution Service (EA/2011/0057) and pending in the Upper Tribunal (GIA/2192/2012)
  • Jackson v Information Commissioner and Electoral Commission (EA/2011/0136) and pending in the Upper Tribunal (GIA/858/2012)
  • Cabinet Office v Information Commissioner (EA/2011/0231)
  • DCLG v The Information Commissioner and William Robinson [2012] UKUT 103 (AAC)
  • Medicines and Healthcare Regulatory Authority v Information Commissioner and Leigh Day &Co. (EA/2011/0026)
  • Yorkshire Forward v Information Commissioner (EA/2012/016)
  • McGonagle v Information Commissioner (EA/2011/0104)
  • Cranfield University v Information Commissioner (EA/2011/0146)

 

5. TAX

Recent and current cases include: 

  • Rank Group Plc -v- HMRC ([2012] UKUT 347 (TCC), [2012] All ER (D) 178: Overturning an FTT decision on a breach of fiscal neutrality claim in respect of machines used to gamble, following the CJEU ruling in Cases C-259 and 260/10 Rank Group Plc -v- HMRC, judgments of 10 November 2011
  • South Africa Tourist Board -v- HMRC: appeal on whether South Africa Tourist Board makes taxable supplies
  • London Wiper Company (t/a Universal Recycling) -v- HMRC [2011] UKFTT 445 (TC): recycling company's appeal against refusal of deductions because of allegedly invalid invoices

Laura has advised on a range of issues, including:

  • The VAT treatment of legal services provided under LSC funding
  • The tax relief scheme for remediation of contaminated land under Schedule 22 Finance Act 2001, including on the scope of the scheme and on proposed amendments
  • The consequences for VAT registration of the sale and disaggregation of a business
  • The lawfulness of seizure and detention of goods subject to excise duty
  • Whether certain healthcare professionals' services are taxable or exempt supplies