London Gypsies and Travellers has vowed to fight on, in the face of a court defeat which overturned previous rulings limiting the use of “wide injunctions” to prevent Gypsies and Travellers from stopping on public land.
In January 2022, the Court of Appeal passed down a new judgement stating that courts can indeed grant final injunctions that prevent persons “who are unknown and unidentified at the date of the order, from occupying and trespassing on land”.
“We continue to believe that these wide injunctions are discriminatory and will continue to support legal moves to oppose them,” said Debby Kennett, LGT Chief Executive. Together with Friends, Families and Travellers and Derbyshire Gypsy Liaison Group, LGT is now seeking permission to appeal to the Supreme Court.
Over the last six years, 38 English councils have obtained borough-wide injunctions prohibiting “persons unknown” from stopping on numerous sites and large swathes of public land within the boundaries of each local authority. Such injunctions have a disproportionate effect on nomadic Gypsies and Travellers, particularly given the long-standing shortage of lawful sites and stopping places.
To show the discriminatory impact of these injunctions, LGT has been involved in a series of legal challenges with representation from Community Law Partnership and Garden Court Chambers.
In 2020, all existing injunctions were brought together in a joint case for in depth scrutiny by Judge Nicklin, and many of the orders were discharged in the process. Following a High Court hearing in January 2021, the Judge gave a ruling that criticised the use of wide injunctions against “persons unknown”.
The judgment said that wide injunctions can only be granted against individuals who can be named or properly identified. Secondly, he ruled that wide injunctions cannot apply to anyone who was not notified about the final Court hearing and is a “newcomer”. This meant that any Gypsies or Travellers who come on the land at a later date would not be covered by the injunction.
However, 12 local authorities appealed the decision in the Court of Appeal and following a hearing at the end of November 2021, they were successful. The Court of Appeal concluded that previous rulings had misunderstood the case law relating to “persons unknown” injunctions, and that such orders can indeed apply to “newcomers”.
The Court of Appeal judgment can be found here: https://www.bailii.org/ew/cases/EWCA/Civ/2022/13.html