Fly tipping may warrant urgent high court applications

United Kingdom
The arrival of trespassers on commercial land usually results in large amounts of fly tipping in a matter of days that can cost thousands of pounds to clear up with little or no recourse to the trespassers.

In its practice note issued on Friday 30 September, the High Court has recognised that the tipping of substantial waste material on commercial property will in certain cases be sufficient to warrant commencing trespasser proceedings in the High Court.

Trespasser proceedings should ordinarily be commenced in the County Court. The County Court can take weeks to deal with urgent trespasser claims by which time the amount of waste that has been dumped can be huge. In contrast, the High Court can list urgent trespasser claims for hearing in a matter of days. Claims can be commenced against trespassers in the High Court if “there is a substantial risk of public disturbance or of serious harm to persons or property which properly require immediate attention”.

In the practice note the High Court has confirmed that harm to the property need not be long-lasting or permanent and has given the tipping of waste material as an example. This guidance is to be welcomed and gives practitioners and land-owners alike an opportunity to move quickly to remove trespassers from land where large volumes of waste is being dumped.