Key facts of the case:
The claim concerns the allocation of fishing quota by the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs ("the Secretary of State"), in his capacity as head of the English fisheries administration. On 10 February 2012 the Secretary of State announced changes to the way in which the fishing quota was to be allocated for 2012 and 2013. The applicants sought to challenge this decision by judicial review. The Secretary of State reduced the quota to be allocated to English fish producer organisations. In essence this is a judicial review of a decision that deprives part of the English fishing fleet of a valuable entitlement, without compensation, to gift it to another part of the fleet. In doing this, the Secretary of State is said to have acted unlawfully. The quotas are allocated to member States in the EU under the Common Fisheries Policy, so European Union law applies in this area because of art 20(3) of Council Regulation (EC) 237/2002. Legal questions raised: that the Secretary of State acted unlawfully in defeating the legitimate expectations of the applicants, interfering with their property rights under art 1, protocol 1 ECHR and Article 17 of the European Charter, and acting in a discriminatory manner.
113. And the reality of the situation is that, albeit built very much of sand, there is a trade in fixed quota allocation units. As seen earlier in the judgment this has attracted official recognition time and again. Units are not only traded but also used as security for bank finance. Valuers place a figure on them even if the methodology is relatively opaque. The tax authorities have seized upon the economic reality to treat them as a capital asset where disposal is capable of generating a capital gain. To use the language in Nicholds, fixed quota allocation units have a monetary value and can be marketed for consideration. In my view fixed allocation quota units are possessions falling within art 1, Protocol 1 of the Convention and art 17 of the Charter.