commercial dispute resolution

Trespass – Regaining Possession of Your Land from Travellers

If you find yourself in a position where your commercial land has been unlawfully occupied, either with or without force, you should act quickly to seek repossession of your land. Trespass can occur in several ways including, but not limited to, squatting and occupation by Travellers. Here we focus specifically on regaining control of your land following occupation by Travellers.

The Law

If someone enters onto your land unlawfully and without permission with the intention to reside or otherwise, then they will likely be committing trespass. Prevention of trespassing and the removal of trespassers are the responsibility of the landowner, not the police.

There are estimated to be at least 120,000 Travellers in the U.K. and Travellers generally lead a nomadic life with origins that stretch back many generations. It is important to understand that this is a way of life and that Travellers need somewhere to live. Some of the Traveller community are also protected against race discrimination under current legislation. That said, it can often be distressing for a landowner if they find themselves in a situation where Travellers have trespassed on land that is rightfully theirs.

Many Travellers occupy land peacefully and leave without issue therefore Court action is not always required. In situations where Travellers do not vacate land of their own accord, or there is risk of or actual damage, a loss of business/reputation and/or increased Traveller numbers, then prompt legal action may be your only option.

Police Involvement

Trespassing on private land is not a criminal offence. The duty of the police is to preserve the peace and prevent crime therefore unfortunately, without a Court Order, the police can do little beyond talk to the Travellers to request they leave the land, especially where they are occupying the land peacefully.

The police may however become involved if there is a situation where there is criminal damage, serious criminality or major public disorder.

The Court Process

Strict Court procedures and deadlines for serving documents must be complied with in order to gain possession of your land, ultimately leading to the eviction of the Travellers. It is therefore crucial that you act quickly and diligently to ensure that repossession of your land is obtained as promptly as possible.

The process and Court documents can vary and will be specific to your situation. Once the documents have been filed and sealed by the Court, they must be served on the Travellers within a strict timeframe. This process is often undertaken by a Process Server. It will then be for a Court to decide on the case based on the documentation presented and on strict compliance with their procedures. We cannot guarantee repossession of the land as this will be for the Court to decide, however we will always put your best case forward.

The Courts generally deal with repossession of commercial land very quickly and cases can sometimes be resolved within 10-14 days. It can however take up to approximately 4-6 weeks to resolve the matter. In complicated cases, repossession can be an even lengthier process with multiple hearings being required.

If the possession claim is successful, then you usually need to use an Enforcement Agent to ensure that your Court order is complied with.

How We Can Help

We appreciate that the repossession and eviction process is difficult and often highly emotive for both our clients and the Travellers, but we will always put the best interests of our client first. We will guide you through the process from inception to completion and will use trusted enforcement agents, process servers and Court advocates to ensure that the best service is provided to our clients.

If you find yourself in a situation where Travellers have occupied your land and you require legal intervention, then please call 01283 526200. Alternatively you can send us a message and we will get in touch at a time that suits you.

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