Recycling firm loses legal bid against council


A company which picks up recycled waste from more than half of Northern Ireland’s households yesterday lost its High Court challenge to a local council which moved its collection services in-house.

Bryson Recycling Ltd was seeking to judicially review Banbridge District Council’s decision not to renew its contract with the company.

But a judge dismissed the case after rejecting all grounds of challenge.

Mr Justice Treacy said: “The central issue in this case, that Bryson wants an opportunity to be awarded a public contract, is not amenable to judicial review.

“On that ground alone Bryson’s claim must fail.”

The company had provided a kerbside box collection service for dry recyclable household waste from homes in the Banbridge area since 2004.

Legal proceedings were issued after the council decided not to re-tender after its contract ended in March 2012.

With the firm claiming the decision is flawed, the court heard the case could have serious consequences for everyone involved in the waste-management industry.

Bryson Recycling was said to hold contracts for half of Northern Ireland’s 26 councils, collecting waste from 60 per cent of homes.

Counsel for the company argued that it was not properly consulted and was effectively excluded from the process in Banbridge.

He said the council’s decision to go in-house was of secondary importance to the overall impact.

It was contended that the decision involved bias and failed to comply with either the Local Government (Best Value) Act 2002 or relevant EU legislation.

But Mr Justice Treacy held that the challenge did not involve enough of a public law element.

He also ruled that the 2002 Act did not impose an obligation on the authority to consult on a particular operational decision about how it delivers certain functions.

The duty relates to high-level or strategic best value arrangements.

“The council’s impugned decision is plainly designed to improve the exercise of its functions and, on the evidence, plainly did so,” Mr Justice Treacy said.

He accepted the council’s submission on the evidence that the adoption of a box scheme as proposed by Bryson would have led to worse results environmentally – as the number of households using this method was lower – at an increased cost.

The judge confirmed: “I reject all the grounds of challenge and dismiss the judicial review.”