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London Borough Council v Persons Unknown: Applications for retrospective permission

by Justine Soutter

Invicta Law’s Justine Soutter looks at the case of Enfield London Borough Council v Persons Unknown and the important implications it may have for other local authorities dealing with fly tipping and unauthorised encampments.

The High Court has refused an application to give a local authority retrospective permission to serve a claim form in order to obtain an injunction to prevent persons unknown from setting up encampments or fly-tipping on public open spaces in its borough.

Facts of the Case

Enfield Borough Council applied for an injunction against persons unknown to stop them from setting up encampments or fly-tipping on various public open spaces in the borough.

An interim injunction was granted and notice of the injunction was attached to posts at each of the sites, however, copies of the claim form were not. The notice stated that the claim form was available on Enfield London Borough Council’s website and in libraries.

When the injunction was due to expire, Enfield London Borough Council applied to the court for retrospective permission to serve the claim form by an alternative method and issued a claim for a new injunction.

Evidence was provided by Enfield London Council that the claim form had been viewed 2068 times on its website.  Evidence was also provided by an organisation known as London Gypsies and Travellers that the gypsy and traveller community tended to have less access to the internet than the general public.

Change in Circumstances

The court found that there had been a duty on the local authority, having obtained the injunction against persons unknown without notice, to restore the matter to the court for reconsideration as there had been a material change in circumstances against the backdrop of the Court of Appeal’s decision in Canada Goose UK Retail Limited .v. Persons Unknown.

Had the local authority done so, the Court would have required service by posting the claim form at each site. In the circumstances, the court held that it would not make an order under CPR 6.15(2) allowing alternative service in respect of an injunction against persons unknown.


So what does this mean for your local authority?  When applying for injunctions against persons unknown, care needs to be taken to ensure that all  documents are served at the relevant sites.

Invicta Law’s Dispute Resolution and Employment team can assist with advice in respect of Gypsy, Traveller and Unauthorised Encampments. We provide pragmatic solutions for clients, delivering high quality legal advice at competitive rates. Contact us on 03000 419709 or email Justine.Soutter@invicta.law for more information.

Contents of this article are intended for general information purposes only and shall not be deemed to be, or constitute professional or legal advice. Invicta Law cannot accept responsibility for any loss as a result of acts or omissions taken in respect of this article.


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