Occupy London Protestors Evicted after High Court Ruling

Ref. The Mayor Commonalty and Citizens of London v Samede (St Paul’s Churchyard Camp Representative) & Ors [2012] EWCA Civ 160

Protestors that have been in situ outside London’s St Paul’s Cathedral since 15 October 2011 have now been forcibly removed by police and bailiffs, as of just after midnight on 28 Feb 2012.

The night time eviction came following Mr Justice Lindblom’s ruling in the High Court in January that the factors for granting relief to the City of London easily outweighed those against and that the City of London Corporation had established a pressing social need not to permit the camp to remain.

Regardless, the Occupy London movement wished in particular to appeal against the ruling that, not only were they not allowed to stay during the night, but that they were banned from the area during the day.

The Court of Appeal’s judgement on the matter was given on Wednesday 22 January by Lord Neuberger, Master of the Rolls. He stated that although articles 10 (Right to Freedom of Expression) and 11 (Right to Freedom of Assembly) of the European Convention on Human Rights were engaged in this instance, the defendants protestations that Mr Justice Lindblom should have dismissed the City of London’s were unfounded.

Additionally, the Court dismissed claims that the orders made by the High Court Judge were too extreme and should have been less intrusive to the defendant’s Convention rights.

Lord Neuberger raised the point that the duty of the court to investigate whether a less intrusive order could have been made could only have been fulfilled by the Judge raising the issue with the defendants. He commented:

“If they were then to persuade him to make any less intrusive order than he did, they would have had to come up with a specific arrangements which (i) would be workable in practice, (ii) would not give rise, at least to anything like the same degree, as the breaches of statutory provisions and other peoples’ rights, as the current state of affairs, and (iii) would be less intrusive of the defendants’ Convention rights as the orders made by the judge,”

The defendants put forward no such proposal and the Court of Appeal remained sceptical that such a proposal could realistically have been put forward.

Lord Neuberger added that this case in addition with Hall [2011] 1 WLR 504 now provides guidance for first instance judges faced with cases of a similar nature. We might consequently expect to see this case reappearing in the future.

To read our article on Occupy London’s intentions to sway the Government’s housing policy and to house in squats the many homeless Londoners that slept with them outside St Paul’s for months, click here.

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