Persons Unknown Injunctions

For Social Housing providers dealing with anti-social behaviour, utilising the Injunction tool available under the Anti-Social Behaviour Crime and Policing Act 2014 is a well-travelled road. In operating this tool, the scenario in terms of who the Respondent is, will usually be straightforward, and they can be specifically named within the proceedings.

However, the situation can arise when a Respondent’s name and address is not known to the Social Landlord and yet, they are causing anti-social behaviour. This could be within a variety of differing scenarios, such as rogue parties causing issues on a specific estate or unknown squatters in a communal area, to name but two. In these scenarios the specific identity of the Respondent may not be known. This does not stop the Social Landlord from needing to deal with this behaviour and in fact, presents an extra layer of difficulty for them.

The good news, and it is important to note, is that it is possible to bring an Injunction application relating to Anti-Social Behaviour where the Respondent would have to be named as ‘Persons Unknown’.

The important first step is to consider how the party could be identified not simply as wide as persons unknown, but an ability to define them to a smaller range of people. For example, in a case of a communal area being used, the group could be defined as persons unknown limited to those attempting to unlawfully enter and or stay with the communal area of a defined property address.

Case law has helpfully waded into this and the recent Court of Appeal case of London Borough of Barking and Dagenham v Persons Unknown provided some further guidance and departing from the existing principals in Canada Goose v Persons Unknown.

Within the recent case, the Court of Appeal held that the Court does have the jurisdiction to grant a Final Injunction against persons unknown, particularly dealing with the issue of those who may in the future become member of the defined group. The existing case law prior to this had cast some doubt on the Court’s ability with concerns that those who came later than the date of the Order being made would still be subject to it. This matter is to be tested further in the Supreme Court in 2023.

What remains clear notwithstanding this is that the Court does have jurisdiction to grant the Orders against persons unknown, but the key element is the ability to define these individuals as a group. The better this is narrowed down, the easier the process of obtaining an injunction would be.

If you would like to discuss any issues relating to Anti-Social Behaviour that involves persons unknown, please do contact Andrew Fairman, Head of Compliance, Building Safety, and Decarbonisation on

Law is correct as at 27th April 2023

Whilst every effort has been taken to ensure that the law in this article is correct, it is intended to give a general overview of the law for educational purposes. You are respectfully reminded that it is not intended to be a substitute for specific legal advice and should not be relied upon as legal advice. No liability is accepted for any error or omission contained herein.

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