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Judge acted within his direction in making orders injuncting appellants from continued trespass on local authority lands

By: Ian Fitzharris BL

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Court of Appeal dismisses appeal against High Court orders providing interlocutory injunctive reliefs to a county council restraining the appellants as members of the travelling community from keeping their caravans on local authority lands pending trial, on the grounds that: (1) the clear acts of the appellants of continuing trespass pointed to the local authority establishing a strong likelihood of succeeding at trial; (2) no fair question to be tried has been established by the appellants that the accommodation in question constitutes their 'home' under European Convention on Human Rights jurisprudence; and (3) no legal basis has been established whereby the local authority could in law be obliged to divert limited resources to meet appellants' bespoke housing demands.

Appeal against High Court orders (Allen J.) granting interlocutory injunction restraining appellants from placing caravans on county council land pending trial of action alongside a mandatory injunction compelling the removal of caravans from lands forthwith - key elements of housing history of appellants as members of travelling community - ashline proceedings - initial occupation of public highway - appellants occupation of public highway and other lands - hearing of application for interlocutory relief - alleged that appellants had constructed a road and provided a courtyard to accommodate the placement of caravans on council's lands - bespoke housing demands of appellants - availability of accommodation as at date of hearing of application for interlocutory reliefs - ex termpore judgment - bringing of caravans onto lands constituted 'development' which was unauthorised - trial judge found county council had not failed in its statutory obligation to effect adequate assessments of appellants' housing needs - whether High Court failed to determine whether caravans constituted a 'home' to attract ECHR protections - whether a failure by county council to facilitate a traveller way of life by consistently electing not to draw down available funding allocated for traveller specific accommodation coupled with a failure to zone lands for purposes of traveller accommodation - approach to be adopted by appellate court to an exercise of judicial discretion - prohibitory injunctions and orders - need to establish an injustice will be done unless order is set aside - great weight afforded to views of trial judge - principles governing grant of interlocutory injunctions - materially different approach to be taken by court where interlocutory relief sought is mandatory in nature - alleged disproportionate interference with appellants' article 8 ECHR rights - clear evidence before trial judge which demonstrated that county council had made out a strong case that it was likely to success at trial of action to obtain permeant mandatory injunctions - no stateable defence or basis in law to justify appellants' acts of trespass and continuing breach of planning statute - cavalier attitude to environmental and planning law and to comply with court orders - repeat court orders made - no delay or acquiesce on part of county council - prompt and unequivocal exercise of statutory obligation to enforce planning code and to recover right of possession of lands occupied - trial judge took into account extensive jurisprudence of ECtHR opened - trial judge correct in his analysis of jurisprudence and its application to facts - appellants not entitled to insist upon housing of their own choosing - appellants failure to identity any lawful basis for trespass on lands - no deviation from or offending of the 'proportionality' test regarding interference with appellants' rights - balance of convenience - adequacy of damages not relied upon by county council - evidence of conduct which constitutes a clear breach of planning legislation - decision made in exercise of trial judge's discretion based on a correct application of relevant principles - accommodation offers to appellants were reasonable - conduct of appellants tantamount to asserting a veto over accommodation offered - margin of appreciation of trial judge - proportionate order - hearing of an appeal from an interlocutory injunction does not involve a re-hearing - no error of principle identified - appeal dismissed - submissions invited on whether court should impose a temporary stay in light of covid restrictions in place.

Note: This is intended to be a fair and accurate report of a decision made public by a court of law. Any errors should be notified to the editor and will be dealt with accordingly.

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