Horse & Hound - - News Insider -

The CLA, the mem­ber­ship or­gan­i­sa­tion for own­ers of land, prop­erty and busi­nesses in ru­ral ar­eas, said the law on tres­pass is “rel­a­tively sim­ple but of­ten un­sat­is­fac­tory from the owner’s per­spec­tive”.

CLA le­gal ad­viser An­drew Gil­lett told H&H: “The com­mon law al­lows the per­son in pos­ses­sion of the land the right to forcibly re­move a tres­passer if they refuse to leave when asked, but only where no more force than rea­son­ably nec­es­sary is used.

“Be­cause of the po­ten­tial phys­i­cal dan­ger and the risk of com­mit­ting a crim­i­nal of­fence if too much force is deemed to have been used, it is not usu­ally rec­om­mended landown­ers fol­low this route.”

Mr Gil­lett added that bring­ing a court claim is an op­tion but “be­cause of the high costs in­volved in tak­ing a mat­ter to court, it is not some­thing that should be un­der­taken lightly”.

He added: “It is most com­monly con­sid­ered as an op­tion where ei­ther dam­age has been suf­fered as a re­sult of the tres­pass, or where the tres­passer is re­peat­edly tres­pass­ing and the ac­tion is de­signed to pre­vent fur­ther tres­pass­ing.

“If an in­junc­tion is awarded, any breach is gen­er­ally pun­ish­able as con­tempt of court. This can prove a very ef­fec­tive de­ter­rent as a breach can lead to a cus­to­dial sen­tence.”

Mr Gil­lett added that ag­gra­vated tres­pass is a crim­i­nal of­fence, which in­volves some­one tres­pass­ing to “in­tim­i­date some­one en­gaged in a law­ful ac­tiv­ity or to dis­rupt a law­ful ac­tiv­ity on the land”, and that po­lice may tell some­one to leave if they be­lieve he is com­mit­ting the of­fence.

Own­ers are ad­vised to en­sure it is not easy for tres­passers to ac­cess lands, in­clud­ing se­cur­ing gates and lock­ing them, with­out ob­struct­ing rights of way. Ad­e­quate in­sur­ance is also im­por­tant.

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