Criminal ban on returning to unauthorised encampments declared incompatible with ECHR

16th May 2024

Ben Amunwa

Ben Amunwa, specialist public law barrister at 3PB Barristers, led by Tim Buley KC of Landmark Chambers, represented Liberty, the second intervener, in Smith v Secretary of State for the Home Department [2024] EWHC 1137 (Admin).

Ben writes about the High Court’s decision in this case, and its finding that key parts of the Police, Crime, Sentencing Courts Act 2022 amendments to Part V of the Criminal Justice and Public Order Act 1994, were unlawful. The amendments strengthened powers available in response to concerns about anti-social conduct perceived to be associated with ‘unauthorised encampments’. The Court’s judgment finds that the criminal law restrictions on persons who return to unauthorised encampments were a disproportionate and unjustified interference with the ECHR article 14 rights of Gypsies, Roma and Travellers.

The High Court’s decision means that Parliament now needs to amend the legislation so it is compatible with the UK’s human rights obligations.

To read Ben's briefing note, please click here.

The case has received national media coverage.

The Claimant was represented by Marc Willers KC and Ollie Persey of Garden Court Chambers, instructed by the Community Law Partnership. The first intervener, Friends, Families and Travellers was represented by Stephen Simblett KC and Nadia O’Mara of Garden Court Chambers, also instructed by the Community Law Partnership. The Defendant was represented by Russell Fortt of 5 Essex Court, instructed by the Government Legal Department.

For further information or to discuss any related issues or cases, please contact Gemma Faulkner or telephone 020 7583 8055.