History Timeline

17th December 2015

R (oao Seiont, Gwyrfai and Llyfni Anglers’ Society) v Natural Resources Wales and others

Fish Legal brought a test case on the scope of the Environmental Liability Directive in two judicial reviews aimed at stop the decline in fish populations from increasingly regular algal blooms and water deoxygenation in Llyn Padarn linked to pollution from a bank-side sewage treatment works. Despite a rare defeat in court, the legal action by the Seiont Gwyrfai and Llyfni fishing society led to Welsh Water (Dwr Cymru) investing £6.5m in improved sewage treatment at the Llanberis Waste Water Treatment Works to prevent pollution of Llyn Padarn, a Site of Special Scientific Interest and home to the rare and endangered Arctic Char
Read more
Warning sign of toxic algae pollution
15th June 2015

Fish Legal v Information Commissioner, United Utilities Water Plc and Yorkshire Water Services Ltd

In February 2015, Fish Legal won a 6 year legal battle to force privatised water and sewerage companies in England and Wales to publish environmental information that they hold, including their pollution records.
Environmental Information and Water Companies
Three large Combined Sewage Overflows
11th June 2020

ACA starts private prosecution against British Coal

In the early 1990s, the ACA began a private prosecution under the Water Resources Act 1991 for pollution of rivers from abandoned mines, specifically the River Rhymnewy in Glamorgan - an issue that the National Rivers Authority (the then Environment Agency) had avoided.
Minewater pollution
1st December 2009

The ACA becomes Fish Legal and links with the Angling Trust

In 2009, a number of angling organisations joined to create the Angling Trust: the Fisheries and Angling Conservation Trust (FACT), the National Association of Fisheries and Angling Consultatives (NAFAC), the National Federation of Anglers (NFA), the National Federation of Sea Anglers (NFSA) and the Specialist Anglers' Alliance (SAA). The Anglers' Conservation Association (now Fish Legal) entered into a collaborative relationship with the Angling Trust, but remains a separate association so that it can provide legal services to its members throughout the UK.
Fish Legal logo
23rd February 2006

The ACA celebrates historic decision by Veterinary Medicines Directorate to suspend the sale of cypermethrin sheep dip

Cased caddis
1st June 1999

Ground-breaking River Eden mediation

The ACA broke the deadlock arising from a catastrophic pollution of the River Eden in Cumbria. 21,000 litres of ammonium hydroxide fertiliser killed countless salmon, trout, coarse fish, eels and invertebrates along 14 miles of river. Part of the £415,000 settlement resulted in the establishment of the Eden Rivers Trust who have worked to protect and improve the river ever since.
Fish Kill
1st July 1998


Dead perch
1st September 1994

The Pure Rivers Society merges with the Anglers’ Co-operative Association to form the Anglers’ Conservation Association

We know that from the Pure Rivers Society 1937 Annual Report that the Society’s aim was “to check and reduce the most serious and ever steadily increasing pollution of our rivers and seas from sewage, factory effluents, road dressings, oil...and the preservation of both sea and river fisheries.” Gary Willis, a PhD student in environmental history at the University of Bristol .
22nd June 1991


Since its inception
"quietly consistently and successfully fought to improve
River fleet fish kill 1991
4th June 1990

Fishmongers Hall

Fishmongers Hall
Fishmongers Hall - 90s
2nd June 1952

Pride of Derby and Derbyshire Angling Association Ltd and Earl of Harrington v British Celanese Ltd, the Derby Corporation, the British Electricity Authority

The Anglers' Cooperative Association's reputation was established in the landmark legal case commonly known by the name of the angling club: the ‘Pride of Derby’. The case involved multiple sources of pollution on the River Derwent. The water flowing past the angling club’s property was described as ‘‘black, opaque, hot and stinking; the bottom was carpeted with sewage fungus". The angling club were awarded injunctions against the operator of a sewage treatment works and an electricity company forcing them to stop polluting the river.
Read more
River Derwent
1st March 1948

Membership recruitment drive

Membership recruitment began in earnest to build a fund large enough to take on city corporations, nationalised industries and wealthy companies.
27th February 1948

First Settlement Cheque

A Guarantee Fund of just £200 was all it took for the ACA to take its first legal case on behalf of the Orpington and District Angling Association against Vegetable Parchment Mills Ltd for polluting the club's lake with sulphuric acid. Today Fish Legal has a large Fighting Fund made up of donations and legacies collected over many years.
6th February 1948

ACA founded 1948

The Anglers' Cooperative Association is set-up in 1948 by John Eastwood - a barrister who saw the potential for anglers with private rights to take direct action against polluters using the civil law. He recognised that anglers could pool their resources to fight for clean waters for the benefit of themselves and the wider public.
Certificate of incorporation - 1948