TRESPASSING — THE LAW
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.