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Do I Need to Go To Court to Remove Trespassers From My Land?

In today’s climate, we understand landowners are looking for ways to remove trespassers from their land at the least possible cost.

We want landowners to know more about this self-help remedy because we have this type of enforcement instruction every week.

So evicting trespassers from the land without a court order is a real solution and very cost-effective.

The Government line is they encourage local authorities to issue legal proceedings to remove trespassers from their land under the auspices of a court order. Shergroup however sees local authority clients who take measured steps to remove trespasser communities from commons, fields and other open land using our National Enforcement TEAM without a court order using the age-old remedy of a “common law” eviction. The amount of time needed to prepare this operation is cut from weeks to under 48 hours to book a date for our team to attend on-site.

In taking this self-help remedy landowners are leaning on the English common law to remove the trespassers using “no more force than is reasonably necessary” (see Halsbury’s Laws of England 4th edition, para 1400 to get them to leave. In fact, the landowner can obtain a court order and still choose to remove the trespassers under Common Law (see Halsbury’s Laws of England 4th edition, Volume 45, para 1400).

What Does the “Use of Force” Really Means?

So, where trespassers turn up and set up a camp on the land, and then refuse to leave, then the landowner can use Shergroup enforcement agents to remove the trespassers. Force is a provocative word and in reality, what it means is that the enforcement agents will ask the trespassers to leave as the initial conversation. If they refuse escalates into towing the trespasser’s vehicles and caravans off the land.

If the trespassers enter the land with force or are violent then the self-help remedy allows for a landowner to remove the trespassers without making a request. Sometimes these situations can disintegrate into a volatile situation that has to be carefully but firmly managed. This is something our enforcement teams do as a matter of course.

Of course, if a situation looks like it could become more heated with entrenched trespassers, a landowner always has the option to issue court proceedings for possession and use the power of a court order turned into a Writ of Possession to remove the trespassers. However, using the extensive experience and skill of negotiating from our own agents the truth is that situations, even difficult ones, usually result in the trespassers leaving the land without any need to go to Court.

Using Shergroup’s National Enforcement TEAM

Landowners may feel they can use the self-help remedy themselves but in reality, they will outsource the job to Shergroup’s National Enforcement TEAM which covers all 105 postcodes from Berwick-on-Tweed in the North down to the Scilly Isles in the South West.

In using one of our very experienced enforcement agents you can lean on our risk assessment procedure which means in all our decades of operation we have never seen an injury or worse.

Alongside having the enforcement team do the eviction, Shergroup has all the resources to call on in terms of vehicles, and other equipment needed to forcibly remove anyone and anything we find on-site.

The Role of the Police in Common Law Evictions

In 2018 National Police Chiefs Council in conjunction with the National Policing College updated its Operational Advice for dealing with unauthorised encampments. This was a welcome upgrade to previous advice coming from the UK Government. A copy of the Advice is on this link (see ).

The Guidance reinforces Shergroup’s approach to this area of its enforcement service in saying “There is no legal right to trespass, however trespass is a civil rather than a criminal offence. The coordinated use of powers available under the Criminal Justice and Public Order Act 1994 allows for a proportionate response to encampments based on the behaviour of the trespassers.”.

The Guidance also spells out the police’s regard for The Equality Act 2010 which makes it unlawful to treat someone less favourably because of a range of protected characteristics, including race, nationality or ethnic or national origins. Often in common law situations, we encounter trespassers who are following a nomadic lifestyle that is lawful and is a culture that is recognised and protected through legislation.

Coming from the police as the enforcers of the criminal enforcement code in the UK, the Guidance reminds us that “the establishment of an unauthorised encampment can raise many concerns with the landowner and neighbouring members of the settled community. Some of these concerns are unfounded, and may be based on ignorance and prejudice; however, there still remains a significant number of encampments that cause high levels of anti-social behaviour and disproportionate disruption to the community into which they move.”

Police powers to evict people from unauthorised encampments do exist, as provided for by Sections 61 and 62 A-E, Criminal Justice & Public Order Act 1994. These powers will be used where behaviour or conduct is considered to be inappropriate, or where the impact of an encampment on others is deemed unacceptable.

This means that we will be in contact with the local police if asked to use the landowners’ common law powers to remove trespassers by force from any land. This is often in the form of a phone call, or the police may visit the location of the site as part of overseeing our own operation. Through such collaboration, the advice of the police is an important part of using the self-help remedy at common law in line with modern-day legislation.

If you encounter trespassers on your property it is essential that you:

  • Request the trespassers to leave as soon as you become aware of them.
  • Never agree with the trespassers if they request to stay for a specific quantity of time as this may impact your request to remove them at a later date.
  • List out the property damages that you think are caused by trespassers.
  • Follow the court process to evict the trespassers, get legal advice as soon as possible from Shergroup.

Summing Up

The right to evict trespassers from land using the common law remedy is useful and speedy and can be organised through a phone call. Formalities are kept to a minimum whilst always recognising the need for a safe and lawful process. Trespassers can be removed the same day if the call to our office is made early enough.

To use our Common Law Eviction process, use on our contact points

PHONE | 0845 890 9200

EMAIL | [email protected]



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Last updated | 19 July 2023

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