A novel approach
Landlords can use an expansive injunction to protect all their land from squatters, says Jon Holbrook
The Occupy London movement has staged a number of occupations of public spaces in the capital, including Shoreditch Park in the London borough of Hackney.
Shortly before the Olympics, the local authority decided it had to act, not least because the park was due to have big screens erected for the public to watch the games.
Hackney Council had already obtained two High Court possession orders against squatters in respect of two of its parks, only to find that squatters either returned or moved to different parks. So it applied for and obtained an injunction that protected all 58 of its parks and open spaces.
This was a novel approach to a new problem, as it is unusual for the court to order someone not to be on land they either have not occupied previously or are not intending to enter. However, Justice Haddon Cave found it appropriate to make an year-long expansive injunction to protect all Hackney’s parks and open spaces, even though most had not been trespassed upon.
The Supreme Court sanctioned the principle of expansive injunctions in a 2009 case involving Travellers who kept moving from wood to wood managed by the Forestry Commission (Secretary of state v Meier). But this development in the law seems to have been little noticed.
The speed with which Hackney secured its remedy was also notable. The claim was issued on a Friday and the order made the following Thursday, to give the squatters two clear days’ notice of the hearing that is normally required. The order was then promptly served and enforced.
Jon Holbrook is a barrister at Cornerstone Barristers