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Common law trespass

This content applies to England

The common law on trespassing.

If a person is on someone else's land without permission s/he will be committing the civil tort of trespass. It is not a criminal offence. To evict a trespasser from open land the owner must issue proceedings using the summary possession proceedings in a county court or the High Court.[1] For more information on these possession proceedings, please see the section on Squatters.

The Supreme Court has decided that whilst a possession order can only be made in respect of the land actually occupied, an injunction can be made regarding land that trespassers might occupy in the future (ie once they have been evicted from their current site).[2]

The Criminal Justice and Public Order Act 1994 introduced criminal offences for trespassing (see the page on Public order provisions) which can be used in the cases where public order offences are an issue.

The information on this page applies only to England. Go to Shelter Cymru for information relating to Wales.

[1] County Court Rules Order 24, preserved in Sch.2 Civil Procedure Rules; Order 113 preserved in Sch.2 Civil Procedure Rules.

[2] Secretary of State For Environment, Food and Rural Affairs v Meier and others [2009] UKSC 11.

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