Recovery of Possession

July 12th, 2021 by James Goudie KC

Lambeth LBC v Grant (2021) EWHC 1962 (QB) concerns a claim by the Council as freehold owner of Clapham Common. Part of the Common has been occupied by individuals known and unknown. They have set up a camp. The camp has generated complaints from local residents. By this action the Council sought to recover possession of its land. It was held that the Council was entitle to an order for possession.
At parasĀ  61 and 63, Chamberlain J observed that, although the Council is a public authority, it is entitled to enforce its public law rights against those occupying their land as trespassers. This, however, is subject to the ECHR rights of the occupiers. They were not infringed. The possession order would interfere with Arts 10 & 11 but the extent of the interference was limited, proportionate and justified. There was a pressing social need and necessity in a democratic society to make the order.

The Judge observed at para 83 that the protection of Arts 10 &11 is not limited to cases where protestors all share a single focussed objective. It extends also to cases where the objectives of the protestors are more diffuse and wide-ranging. Even very generalised expressions and protestors with different concerns coming together can qualify.

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