Court of Appeal rules council’s traveller injunction to be legal
Barking and Dagenham’s traveller injunction has been ruled to be legal. The council and 11 other local authorities took the case to the Court of Appeal in December 2021.
The council’s Legal Services represented four of the successful other councils.
The Court of Appeal on Thursday, 13 January, overturned the May 21 judgment of the High Court. Mr Justice Nicklin had previously ruled that a local council cannot have a ‘persons unknown’ injunction that binds ‘newcomers’.
The Court of Appeal ruled that Mr Justice Nicklin had been “wrong” to hold that persons unknown injunctions cannot bind newcomers, and “went too far” in seeking to call in previous final injunctions, of which Barking and Dagenham Council was one.
In October 2020, Mr Justice Nicklin ‘called in’ all 38 existing so called ‘traveller injunctions’, ordering all local authorities to answer a series of questions, a procedure the Court of Appeal has called “unorthodox”. As a consequence, 30 of the injunctions were withdrawn, dismissed or discharged, leaving only 8 remaining.
As a result of the Court of Appeal’s findings, the council’s final injunction against a number of named defendants, and persons unknown, now remains in full force.
The Judgment provides a much-needed clarification on the law relating to unauthorised encampment injunctions. The decision of the Court of Appeal was clear and robust and confirms the availability of persons unknown injunctions to protect local interests.
Leader of Barking and Dagenham Council, Cllr Darren Rodwell, said: “Finally common sense has prevailed, and I am glad that this judgement agrees with our approach that our injunctions are lawful.
“This means that our residents can continue to enjoy our parks and open spaces without having to worry about any untoward behaviour.”
Cllr Margaret Mullane, Cabinet Member for Enforcement and Community Safety, said: “We have a zero-tolerance approach to anti-social behaviour in our borough and our persistence in this instance shows how far we are prepared to go to keep our residents safe.
“A special thank you and very well done to officers from our Legal Service for a brilliant result.”
The approach taken by the council was robust. It named as many individual defendants as possible, as well as including persons unknown. It also included thousands of pages of supporting evidence and completing the appropriate Equality Impact Assessments to ensure the rights of travellers were fully considered.
This approach was previously endorsed by the Court of Appeal when the Council Intervened in the case of Bromley v Persons Unknown.