White van driving down a road against a background of green hills and and a tree to the left.

Supreme Court rules wide injunctions have negative impact on ability to pursue nomadic way of life

Today, the Supreme Court has ruled wide injunctions have a negative impact on Gypsies’ and Travellers’ ability to pursue a nomadic way of life, but rejected an appeal lodged by Friends, Families and Travellers alongside London Gypsies and Travellers (LGT) and Derbyshire Gypsy Liaison Group (DGLG), in respect of the granting of wide injunctions against persons unknown.

The judgment, passed down this morning, states that injunctions, whether described as interim or final, could, as a matter of principle, be granted against newcomers. but for different reasons than those given by the Court of Appeal in an earlier stage of the proceedings.

The Supreme Court considered that newcomer injunctions were an equitable remedy that ought to be available to the Court in appropriate cases where other remedies available are inadequate to vindicate or protect the rights in issue.

However, importantly, the Supreme Court also recognised the impact that these injunctions had on the ability of Gypsies and Travellers to live a traditionally nomadic way of life, highlighting the continuing lack of site provision. It noted the Court of Appeal’s decision in the earlier Bromley case and the guidance that was given to local authorities seeking wide injunctions in that case.

Building on the Bromley judgment, the Supreme Court added further guidance, noting:

“We have considerable doubt as to whether it could ever be justifiable to grant a Gypsy or Traveller injunction which is directed to persons unknown, including newcomers, and extends over the whole borough or for significantly more than a year.

It is to be remembered that this is an exceptional remedy, and it must be a proportionate response to the unlawful activity to which it is directed. Further we consider that an injunction which extends borough-wide is likely to leave the Gypsy and Traveller communities with little or no room for manoeuvre…”

FFT, LGT and DGLG had been permitted to intervene in the earlier stages of the proceedings before the High Court and Court of Appeal. They were then granted permission to appeal the Court of Appeal’s decision to the Supreme Court and were also granted a protective costs order (PCO), which allowed the organisations to pursue a public interest case without the risk of unaffordable costs.

The grant of a PCO is a novel feature of the case and potentially creates a blueprint for other charities seeking to take part in future newcomer injunction proceedings.

FFT, LGT and DGLG were represented by Chris Johnson of Community Law Partnership (CLP), Marc Willers KC, Tessa Buchanan and Owen Greenhall of Garden Court Chambers, and Richard Drabble KC of Landmark Chambers. Liberty and Friends of the Earth acted as Interveners in the case.

Since 2015, a large number of local authorities have used wide injunctions, which disproportionately impact on nomadic Gypsies and Travellers and contribute to the long-standing shortage of sites and stopping places.

Speaking about the Supreme Court’s judgment, Marc Willers KC of Garden Court Chambers said:

“The Supreme Court’s decision emphasises that wide injunctions which prohibit Gypsies and Travellers from camping on public land have negative impact on their ability to pursue their traditional nomadic way of life and that they should only be sought and granted in exceptional circumstances, with strict limits on their length and geographical scope and after local authorities have complied with guidance laid down in the judgment.

Wide injunctions remain, but their use and scope is restricted by the Supreme Court’s important guidance.”

Abbie KirkbyHead of Policy and Public Affairs at Friends, Families and Travellers said this about the discriminatory nature of the wide injunctions:

“We have been determined to challenge the discriminatory and disproportionate use of these injunctions, used to target Gypsy and Traveller families who have nowhere else to stop.

This is just one of the very many prohibitive approaches and eviction powers used to target Travellers and it’s key that the Supreme Court recognises the significance of the lack of site provision and the need for ”compelling justification’ for such an order to be sought and granted by the Court.

We see this as a shot across the bows to local authorities – that their hostile approaches to Traveller communities will not go unchecked.”

Speaking about the Supreme Court’s guidance, Debby Kennett, Chief Executive Officer at London Gypsies and Travellers said:

“We are pleased that the Supreme Court has recognised the significance of the Court of Appeal decision in the Bromley case and outlines strict limits on the use of ‘Persons Unknown’ injunctions.

The Supreme Court has recognised that the lack of sites and stopping places for Gypsies and Travellers is the fundamental problem and that use of wide injunctions offers no real solutions. It is significant to see the message to local authorities to address this urgent need by seeking dialogue to understand the needs of nomadic communities, and the importance of a constructive approach to finding proportionate solutions.

We strongly support this and hope that it will urge councils to change their approach from evictions and criminalisation, to providing the sites and stopping places that are urgently needed.”  






About Friends, Families and Travellers (FFT)

Friends, Families and Travellers is a leading national charity that works to end racism and discrimination against Gypsy, Roma and Traveller people and to protect the right to pursue a nomadic way of life.

Media Contact

Communications Team

Tel: 07436 228910 Email: [email protected]

Relevant Resources

‘Wolverhampton City Council and others (Respondents) v London Gypsies and Travellers and others (Appellants) [2023] UKSC 47 On appeal from [2022] EWCA Civ 13’. Supreme Court. November 2023. View here.

‘Wide injunctions to be challenged in Supreme Court’. Friends, Families and Travellers. October 2022. Read.

‘The application for permission to appeal’. Community Law Partnership. January 2022. View here.

‘London Borough of Barking and Dagenham & Anor v Persons Unknown & Ors [2022] EWCA Civ 13’. Court of Appeal. January 2022. View here.

‘New ruling marks an end to wide anti-Traveller injunctions’. Friends, Families and Travellers. May 2021. View here.

‘New research shows huge unmet need for pitches on Traveller sites in England’. Friends, Families and Travellers. January 2021. View here.

‘Use of Injunctions criticised by Court of Appeal’. Friends, Families and Travellers. January 2020. View here.


Sign up to our Newsletter

Scroll to Top