A boater who lives between Bradford on Avon and Bath on the Kennet and Avon Canal is facing homelessness after a ruling at Bristol County Court which could also make other canal-dwellers homeless.

A judge ruled on March 31 that Paul Davies has not been following the rules governing continuous cruising on the canal, and could now lose his boat.

Mr Davies, 46, does not have a permanent mooring and has travelled between Bradford on Avon and Bath for nearly seven years on his barge.

His dispute with British Waterways is about whether his journey can be defined as “bona fide” navigation.

British Waterways said it does not, and the ruling found in the organisation’s favour.

Mr Davies who works with deafblind people in Bath, said: “It’s a bit confusing to me. It’s more helpful now the judge has said what bona fide isn’t, but he still hasn’t said what it is.

“Therefore my home is under threat, my boat is under threat, my job is under threat and my link to the local area is under threat. I’ve got homelessness and joblessness looming over me. This is all I’ve got, it’s all I’ve ever had.”

Mr Davies now has three months to respond to the judgement, and is considering whether to appeal. In the meantime he is searching for a permanent mooring and plans to extend his journey to Devizes.

However, there is further concern that the ruling could be used to force other boaters off canals.

Mr Davies said: “The ruling does only affect me and doesn’t set a precedent, but it’s obvious British Waterways will look to try and rely on this. Potentially it’s trouble for everybody else.

“But if I hadn’t defended I would have lost my home. It’s very hurtful when people say I’m making it worse for others, I did it on behalf of other people.”

Nick Brown, legal officer of the National Bargee Travellers Association, said: “We are considering an appeal. Paul has spent five years in a state of constant anxiety not knowing whether his is going to lose his home or not.

“We want to see live-in boaters free from harassment and bullying from British Waterways, which is the case at the moment.”

British Waterways have welcomed the ruling.

Sally Ash, head of boating, said: “The decision is a great help in bringing greater clarity to a subject which has caused much debate and difficulty within the waterways community.

“We very much welcome continuous cruising on our canals and rivers and are, as a result of the learned judge’s findings, refining our mooring guidance.”