BP South Africa, convicted of environmental crimes in a private prosecution, and the Uzani Environmental Advocacy have been instructed by the Gauteng High Court (Johannesburg) to make representations regarding sentencing in the matter by 1 November.

According to a Beeld report, BP replaced its lead counsel, Mike Hellens SC, with Barry Roux SC, who appeared on behalf of the petroleum giant on Friday when Judge Brian Spilg instructed the parties to present arguments regarding fines.

The Environmental Protection Act provides for a fine of R100 000 plus up to three times the ‘commercial value’ of the 17 petrol stations constructed by BP in Gauteng without the necessary environmental impact assessments.

The National Environmental Management Act also allows a possible fine equal to the monetary benefit BP derived by constructing the petrol stations. Spilg wants legal certainty on how these two Acts apply to the current case. He earlier held that the mere fact that BP applied to set matters right legally after construction in terms of section 24G of the Act makes the company guilty of an offence for not seeking approval before construction.

BP said on Friday it did not agree with the conviction. ‘The legal process continues and BP is considering all its options,’ it said in a statement.

Full Beeld report