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Network Rail could face contractors' 'Human Rights' action

CONTRACTORS COULD launch an action under the Human Rights Act against Network Rail's decision to scrap maintenance contracts, a leading lawyer said this week.

'Under the Human Rights Act, there are rights to protection of property and peaceful enjoyment of your own assets. Companies also have these rights under the Act, ' Chris Jackson, a partner at law firm Burges Salmon told NCE.

'Termination of these contracts could be a breach of human rights.

The contractors bought these infrastructure maintenance companies on privatisation and built them up, ' he explained.

The Human Rights Act gives protection against deprivation of or interference in your business interests by the State, or if the State takes over control, ' said Jackson. 'However it is not an absolute right, but a qualified one.'

An action would first have to prove that Network Rail was acting as the state. 'If there was a preliminary court ruling saying that it was, the implications would be wide, ' said Jackson.

'But even if this was accepted, Network Rail could seek to show that its action is proportionate to the public interest and outweighs private rights, ' he added.

Other remedies open to the contractors include actions based on representations and assurances made by Network Rail.

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