Daredevils prevented from further trespass

United Kingdom

A recent craze of “urban exploring” – people trespassing on land to climb tall buildings and cranes, posting the views on social media – is forcing landowners to seek injunctive relief to prevent further trespass by the original perpetrators, but also against potential future unknown copycats.

This case has set a precedent, being followed by other major landowners to prevent similar activities across portfolios of buildings being targeted by so-called “urban explorers” (Canary Wharf Investments Limited v Brewer).

This is a useful judgment for landowners who might be affected by “urban explorers”, but also by any other serial trespassers and copycat trespassers.

Facts

The owners of Canary Wharf successfully obtained injunctions against “urban explorers” who were climbing cranes and buildings without permission.

The Defendants were so-called urban explorers who trespass to climb on the exterior of buildings and cranes and post messages and photographs of their exploits on social media.

The Defendants, for nearly a year, despite issuance of banning orders, were continuing to evade security and trespass on buildings and structures.

Held

A landowner is entitled to an injunction to restrain trespass even if the trespass will not cause damage. This is settled law.

A landowner is able to obtain an interim injunction against as yet unidentified persons, provided the injunction sought is clearly defined and framed in a way that would catch the persons. The Court must be satisfied that the conduct to be prevented is clearly identifiable and that there is a significant risk of as yet unidentified persons from carrying out the conduct.

Difficulty in enforcing an injunction is not a bar to granting it in the first place, provided those being prevented from taking the action are clearly defined, which in this case, the definition of ‘any unknown persons seeking to copy the Defendants’ was sufficient.

The Judge was satisfied that there was a significant risk of others who were at the time unidentified carrying out the offending conduct.