Social Welfare Lawyers in the Centre of Birmingham

Traveller other

Adverse Possession

Milton Keynes Council v Nathan Wilsher and Persons Unknown [2022] EWHC 578 (QB), 23 March 2022.

The Claimant was the registered proprietor of Two Mile Ash Farm. The dispute concerned three fields ( ‘the Land’) that formed part of the land. The Claimant took action against the First Defendant as a trespasser. The First Defendant defended the action on the basis of adverse possession.

The relevant provisions of the Land Registration Act 2002 came into force on 13 October 2003. The First Defendant accepted that he could not satisfy the requirements of the 2002 Act so as to obtain registration on the basis of adverse possession since October 2003. However Mr Justice Eyre accepted on the evidence that the First Defendant and his father before him had been in adverse possession of the Land by grazing horses and other livestock for a period of at least 12 years before 13 October 2003.

Thanks to Tim Jones of No 5 Chambers, who acted for Mr Wilsher, for bringing this case to our attention.

LB Barking & Dagenham and others v Persons Unknown and others

[2022] EWCA Civ 13, 13 January 2022

Over the last 6 years, some 38 councils in England have obtained what have become known as ‘borough-wide’ injunctions prohibiting ‘persons unknown’ from camping on numerous sites and large swathes of public land within the boundaries of each local authority. Such injunctions have a disproportionate effect on nomadic Gypsies and Travellers, particularly given the long-standing shortage of lawful sites for them to camp on.

Abuse of Process

B Havering & ors v Persons Unknown & ors [2021] EWHC 2648 (QB)

When laying down very important principles for local authorities when seeking wide injunction orders against Gypsy and Traveller encampments in his judgment of 12 May 2021 ( see LB Barking & Dagenham & ors v Persons Unknown & ors [2021] EWHC 1201 (QB) – and see our article on this matter at, Nicklin J was also very critical of four local authorities who, having obtained interim orders, failed to progress those to final hearings. He directed that those cases (and also a case for another local authority, Test Valley BC, where only directions were required for a final hearing) should be listed for a hearing to decided whether or not there had been an abuse of process.

Into the Sea? Wide Injunctions

London Borough of Enfield v Persons Unknown [2020] EWHC 2717 (QB)

Ever since 2015 when Harlow Council obtained a wide injunction against ‘persons unknown’ camping on a large number of parcels of land, Gypsies, Travellers and their supporters have been concerned at the slow but sure spread of these injunctions. If every local authority in England obtained such an injunction where would Gypsies and Travellers who have no place to stop (due to the failure of the very same local authorities to provide pitches, both permanent and transit),  go? Into the sea?

The Enshrined Right to Travel : The Bromley Case

London Borough of Bromley v Persons Unknown, London Gypsies and Travellers and others [2020] EWCA Civ 12


As many readers will know, London Borough of Bromley (‘Bromley’) appealed to the County Court against the refusal of “a de facto boroughwide prohibition of encampment and entry/occupation…in relation to all accessible public spaces in Bromley” ( in the words of Ms Ann-Leigh Mulcahy QC, sitting as a deputy judge of the High Court, when refusing the injunction). Some 38 similar injunctions have been granted by the High Court in recent years. In the Bromley case, London Gypsies and Travellers (LGT) intervened represented by Marc Willers QC and Tessa Buchanan of Garden Court Chambers and CLP (all acting substantially pro bono). This was, therefore, the first case involving such an injunction in which the Gypsy and Traveller community were represented before the High Court. As a result of the success of LGT in getting the wide injunction discharged (an injunction just against fly tipping and depositing waste was granted), this was also the first case to be argued out at appellate level. At Court of Appeal level Liberty and seven other local authorities also intervened.

URGENT PRESS RELEASE – Injunctions criticised in landmark ruling

A landmark Court of Appeal judgment released today has criticised the use of wide injunctions which target Gypsy and Traveller encampments. The Court of Appeal handed down a very significant judgment, dismissing an appeal by Bromley Council against the High Court’s decision to refuse the Council’s application for an injunction against “persons unknown” stopping on public land in the Borough.

London Borough of Bromley v Persons Unknown and London Gypsies & Travellers

London Borough of Bromley v Persons Unknown and London Gypsies & Travellers – [2019] EWHC 1675, 17 May 2019

The London Borough of Bromley (LBB) sought a final injunction against ‘persons unknown prohibiting unauthorised occupation and/or deposition of waste’ on 171 parcels of land owned or managed by them. The application for an injunction was clearly targeted wholly or mainly at Gypsies and Travellers. This was in a context where over 30 local authorities throughout England had already obtained such injunctions.

R (Ward & Ors) – v – LB Hillingdon and EHRC (Interveners)

[2019] EWCA Civ 692, 16 April 2019

Ms Ward and Mr McDonagh were Irish Travellers who applied for housing to LB Hillingdon (LBH) and were placed in the lowest band on the waiting list because they had not resided in the borough for 10 years. Mr Gullu was an asylum seeker who was also placed in the lowest band for the same reason. At first instance, Supperstone J held that LBH had indirectly discriminated against Ms Ward and Mr McDonagh but Mostyn J dismissed the calm by Mr Gullu. The Court of Appeal concluded that the 10 year residency requirement amounted to indirect discrimination against all 3 claimants and that LBH had failed to justify that indirect discrimination. However the Court of Appeal did not uphold Supperstone J’s finding that the 10 year residency requirement also amounted to a breach of Children Act 2004 s11.

R (TW, SW and EM) – v – London Borough of Hillingdon and EHRC (intervener) [2018] EWHC 1791 (Admin) 13 July 2018

The London Borough of Hillingdon (LBH) allocates social housing in accordance with an Allocations Policy from 2016.  Under that Policy, applicants for social housing are placed into Bands (A, B, C or D) according to priority for social housing which they have under the policy.  Obviously a person in Band A has a better chance of being allocated housing than a person in Band B and so on.

Public Law Defences to Possession Actions

Davies v Hertfordshire CC [2018] WLR(D) 1411, is not a Traveller case but is a useful reminder that, even where there is no security of tenure, a public law defence can be put forward to a possession action (in this case concerning Children Act 2004 section 11).

See the transcript at: