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Archive for December, 2009

Trespassers go to new Supreme Court

Whether one calls them trespassers, squatters or travellers and whether one believes or not that more areas should be identified for their occupation, the problems caused by persons entering property for the purpose of establishing a home which they do not own or have any legal right to occpy remain the same.  They can cause distress, annoyance and unwanted hassle and loss to the person(s) entitled to occupy the premises and can involve either the police or the civil courts in the often long drawn out affair of having the occupiers evicted.

Whilst the scenario is not new, Lady Hale identified two aspects to come before the new Supreme Court: “First can the court grant a possession order in respect of land, no part of which is yet occupied by the defendant, because of the fear that she will do so if ejected from land which she currently does occupy?  Second, should the court grant an injunction against that feared trespass?”  (Secretary of State for Environment, Food an Rural Affairs v Meier and others [2009] UKSC 11.)

The Supreme Court held the courts could not grant an order for possession of land not yet occupied.  However, it could grant an injunction to restrain further occupation.  The Supreme Court shied away from saying how such an injunction could be enforced particularly where trespassers included women with young children.  Lord Rodger, for instance, believed “At the very least, the matter is one for the Master of the Rolls and the Rules Council who have the leisure and facilities to consider the issues.”  As the now Master of the Rolls, Lord Neuberger, was amongst Lord Rodger’s fellow judges, we await what, if anything, he will say of this invitation.

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