[Diggers350] New Ruling Ends Recent Council Attempts To Get Wide Anti-Traveller Injunctions

Tony Gosling tony at cultureshop.org.uk
Thu May 13 21:06:11 BST 2021

New ruling puts an end to wide anti-Traveller injunctions

12 May, 2021


A landmark ruling today marks the end of wide 
anti-Traveller injunctions against “persons 
unknown”. The judgment harshly criticises the use 
of wide injunctions as a blanket ban against 
Gypsies and Travellers who have nowhere to stop.

Charities including Friends, Families and 
Travellers, London Gypsies and Travellers and the 
National Federation of Gypsy Liaison Groups who 
acted as interveners in the case with legal 
representation from Garden Court Chambers and 
Community Law Partnership are today celebrating the good news.

Wide injunctions against “persons unknown” have 
been used by councils in England to prevent 
Gypsies and Travellers from stopping on public 
land since 2015, despite the fact that the 
of councils have failed to identify land for sites and stopping places.

The judgment builds on a 
ruling, which found in January last year that 
borough-wide injunctions are “inherently 
problematic” and they “comprise a potential 
breach of both the [European] Convention [on 
Human Rights] and the Equality Act”.

Responding to the news, Emma Bray, Outreach 
Worker and Campaigns Officer at Friends, Families and Travellers said:

“Since my early childhood I have always had a 
feeling of being invisible or a thorn in the foot 
for councils and officials. With constant 
evictions and never being consulted on policies 
that directly affect our lives added to this 
feeling so today’s decision gives me hope for my children’s futures.”

In his judgement today, Mr Justice Nicklin ruled 
that wide injunctions can only be granted against 
individuals who can be named or properly 
identified. Councils need to demonstrate they 
have notified them about the legal proceedings. 
Secondly, he ruled that wide injunctions cannot 
apply to anyone who was not notified about the 
final Court hearing. This means that any Gypsies 
or Travellers who come on the land at a later 
date will not be covered by the injunction.

He also highlighted that “a significant number of 
the [
] Claims were allowed to go to sleep 
following the grant of an interim injunction, and 
no local authority, which had been granted a 
Traveller Injunction, took steps to return claims 
to Court for reconsideration following the 
decisions of LB Bromley and Canada Goose.”

Reflecting on the news, Mattey Mitchell, who is 
Romany and a Campaigns Officer at Friends, Families and Travellers said:

“This is a wonderful victory for justice, 
fairness and equality in a nation that prides 
itself on these values. Collective punishment 
should be a thing of the past, especially when it 
impacts communities already facing such harsh 
inequalities. Justice Nicklin’s judgement today 
is a breath of fresh air in what can sometimes 
feel like a hopelessly hostile environment.”

At the 
Court hearing in January 2021, 13 councils from 
across England defended their wide injunctions. 
Friends, Families and Travellers, London Gypsies 
and Travellers and the National Federation of 
Gypsy Liaison Groups acted as interveners in the 
case with legal representation from Garden Court 
Chambers and Community Law Partnership. Following 
the judgment today, it is likely that all 
injunctions against “persons unknown” will be discharged.

The ruling also has serious implications for the 
Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill, which seeks to 
criminalise the nomadic way of life, and could be 
used in a legal challenge if the Bill becomes law.

Responding to the news, Abbie Kirkby, Public 
Affairs and Policy Manager at Friends, Families and Travellers said:

“The inhumane approach of acquiring an injunction 
against all Gypsies and Travellers has once 
against been recognised by the courts as being 
unlawful. We are pleased, as joint interveners in 
the case, to have had the opportunity to assist 
the court in understanding the discriminatory and 
disproportionate nature of these injunctions, 
which are a symptom of the complete failure by 
local authorities to identify suitable land on 
which Gypsies and Travellers can stop. This 
judgment comes at a particularly crucial time as 
measures which essentially criminalise 
encampments are set to be introduced in the 
Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill. There 
are common sense solutions to addressing the 
accommodation needs of Gypsies and Travellers, 
that work with families, not against them.”

Adding to this, Debby Kennett, Chief Executive of 
London Gypsies and Travellers said:

“We are proud to be involved in this hugely 
important case which scrutinised the catch-all 
injunctions which have effectively banned Gypsies 
and Travellers from stopping in large areas of 
the country. It has been a long process and this 
final hearing was a result of councils ignoring 
the Bromley and Canada Goose judgments. They have 
now been seriously criticised for doing so. The 
judgment reinforces the fact that Gypsies and 
Travellers have the right to a nomadic way of 
life and we continue to push for positive 
alternatives to evictions and injunctions.”

Commenting on the case, Marc Willers QC, Garden Courts Chambers, said:

“Mr Justice Nicklin’s judgment is a tour de force 
and will be required reading for any lawyer 
practising in this field. The decision reaffirms 
the fundamental principle that final injunctions 
do not bind non-parties. The Judge rejected the 
submission that injunctions against Gypsies and 
Travellers were an exception to this rule. The 
decision also emphasises the need for rigorous 
compliance with the rules of civil procedure, 
with the Judge concluding that there were grounds 
to suspect that there had been material and 
serious breaches of procedure in a significant 
number of cases brought by local authorities. The 
judgment also recognises the right of Romani 
Gypsies and Irish Travellers to respect for their 
cultural traditions, including their enshrined 
right to travel, as emphasised by Lord Justice 
Coulson in the Bromley case in 2020.”’

And it came to pass, as he sat at meat with them, 
he took bread, and blessed it, and brake, and 
gave to them. 
<http://biblehub.com/luke/24-31.htm>31 And their 
eyes were opened, and they knew him; and he 
vanished out of their sight.  http://biblehub.com/kjv/luke/24.htm
"And I think, in the end, that is the best 
definition of journalism I have heard; to 
challenge authority - all authority - especially 
so when governments and politicians take us to 
war, when they have decided that they will kill and others will die. "
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