A hydro electric plant on a river

The water sector is highly-regulated and facing significant change in a number of areas. The supply of water and sewerage services in England and Wales is subject to a range of UK and EU water laws as well as the terms of the Instruments of Appointment for each of the regulated statutory undertakers. Those undertakers are being challenged to change the way they operate for customers and to compete on a greater scale than ever before – particularly as regards business retail customers.

Our water lawyers have expert knowledge of the water sector, gained through experience in drafting UK and EU water legislation, working for Ofwat and working within the industry itself. We are ideally placed to help clients with these challenges as well as the general commercial issues arising from operating in this regulated environment.

We also have a market-leading environment team who advise on all issues of water law including defending prosecutions for water pollution, dealing with the various licences relating to the use of water and flooding claims.

Areas of focus

Our water sector expertise includes the following:

  • Advising statutory water and sewerage undertakers on regulatory requirements and investigations (in particular in relation to Ofwat, DWI and EA).
  • Advising new entrants to retail markets on entry requirements and potential legal issues.
  • Advising on competition issues arising in relation to the competitive segments of the water and sewerage markets.
  • Advising water and sewerage undertakers on all of their commercial needs including environmental, planning, employment, real estate, dispute resolution and renewable energy projects.
  • Advising on the increasing commercial opportunities for the water sector.
  • Advising contractors on construction projects in the water sector.
  • Defence of criminal prosecutions for water pollution and abstraction cases.
  • Advising on impoundment and abstraction licences – including appeals, compliance, trading arrangements, transfer and judicial reviews.
  • Advising on Marine Licences.
  • Advising on discharge and trade effluent consents.
  • Flooding claims.

Advising a water undertaker in relation to its statutory duties in the context of PR14.

Advising water and sewerage undertakers in relation to internal structuring and revised procedures in the context of the forthcoming water and sewerage retail market opening in 2017.

Advising the owners of a water and sewerage undertaker in relation to another investment in the water sector.

Advising a statutory water and sewerage undertaker on the outsourcing of its IT functions.

Advising a water and sewerage undertaker in relation to potential competition issues (margin squeeze and unfair pricing) arising in the context of new developments.

Advising a consortium contractor responsible for the delivery of the Thames Tideway Tunnel including advice on its construction contract with Thames Tideway and the numerous sub-contracts in place with its supply chain.

Advising a water undertaker on all of its real estate needs including the acquisition and disposal of unregulated assets.

Advising a water undertaker in relation to a variety of employment issues.

Advising a water and sewerage undertaker on planning issues arising from a Sustainable Urban Drainage System initiative.

Conducting the defence of criminal prosecutions for numerous clients for pollution of controlled waters/breach of abstraction licences.

Advising a hydropower developer on the judicial review of the Environment Agency's refusal to grant an impoundment licence for a hydropower project.

Advising Canal and River Trust on bulk water supply agreements.

Advising Great Yarmouth Port Company on the judicial review of the Marine Management Organisation's amendments to a Marine Licence.

Advising Third Energy on its submissions to and negotiations with the Environment Agency concerning the injection of process water from an onshore gas site into an adjoining saline aquifer.

Advising a global manufacturer on an appeal to Ofwat arising from a dispute in relation to a trade effluent consent.

Meet the team
Michael Barlow

Michael Barlow Partner

  • Head of Energy, Power and Utilities
  • Environment
  • Water
Rupert Weston

Rupert Weston Partner

  • Corporate
  • Hotels
  • Mergers and Acquisitions
Noel Beale

Noel Beale Director, Competition – Regulation

  • Competition
  • Transport
  • Water
Philip Beer

Philip Beer Partner

  • Real Estate
  • Transport
  • Energy, Power and Utilities
Steven James

Steven James Partner

  • Energy, Power and Utilities
  • Construction and Engineering Disputes
  • Construction and Engineering Contracts
Richard Adams

Richard Adams Partner

  • Construction and Engineering
  • Infrastructure
  • Construction Disputes
Adrian Martin

Adrian Martin Partner

  • Head of Employment
  • TUPE: Business Transfers and Outsourcing
  • Restructuring and Redundancy
Gary Soloman

Gary Soloman Partner

  • Head of Planning and Compulsory Purchase
  • Regeneration and Highways
  • Compulsory Purchase and Compensation

What others say...

It is always excellent; they are very efficient, prompt and commercially minded in the advice they provide. 

Chambers UK 2015

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