Case: Wolverhampton City Council and others (Respondents) v London Gypsies and Travellers and others (Appellants)

Judgment Given: 29th November 2023

On 29th November 2023, the UK Supreme Court gave its judgment in the case of Wolverhampton City Council and others (Respondents) v London Gypsies and Travellers and others (Appellants). The case concerned the use of “newcomer injunctions” against Gypsies and Travellers who set up unauthorised encampments on public or private land.

Newcomer injunctions are a type of injunction that prevent individuals or groups from occupying land without permission, even if they have not caused any harm or damage. They are often used against Gypsies and Travellers who have nowhere else to go and who face discrimination and hostility from settled communities.

In this case, the appellants argued that newcomer injunctions were discriminatory and disproportionate, and that local authorities should use other measures or powers, such as byelaws, to manage unauthorised encampments. The respondents argued that newcomer injunctions were necessary to protect the rights of landowners and the public, and that other measures were not always effective or appropriate.

The Supreme Court Justices, led by Lord Reed, President, held that newcomer injunctions were not inherently discriminatory or disproportionate and that they could be granted against Gypsies and Travellers in certain circumstances. However, they also emphasised that the use of newcomer injunctions should be a last resort and that local authorities should consider other measures and powers before seeking such injunctions.

The justices also noted that the availability and effectiveness of other measures and powers, such as byelaws, would depend on the specific facts and circumstances of each case. They therefore called for a case-by-case approach to the use of newcomer injunctions and for local authorities to engage with Gypsies and Travellers and their representatives in finding alternative solutions.

The judgment has been welcomed by some as a balanced and rational approach to a complex and contentious issue, while others have criticised it as perpetuating discrimination and inequality against Gypsies and Travellers. It remains to be seen how the judgment will be applied in practice and whether it will lead to more constructive and respectful relationships between Gypsies and Travellers and settled communities.

Law is correct as of 5th December 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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