Romani Gypsy and Traveller Rights
"Garden Court Chambers' planning set specialises in representing travellers in seeking planning permission and challenging enforcement actions. Marc Willers 'displays immense planning knowledge as well as practical input. He has the skill to defuse areas of conflict and point the way forward for settlement'. David Watkinson is 'an outstanding barrister with an excellent understanding of the law, and provides quality advice'."
The Legal 500 2011
"Marc Willers of Garden Court Chambers is pre-eminent in the area of gypsy and traveller related planning law. One peer found that 'he fights cases which seem difficult in ways that make them look easy.'"
Chambers UK 2012
"Marc Willers at Garden Court Chambers is 'approachable, knowledgeable and articulate', and specialises in representing Gypsies and Travellers seeking planning permission."
The Legal 500, 2010
Garden Court Chambers has an experienced and dedicated team of experts covering all aspects of the law relating to Romani Gypsy and Traveller rights.
Chambers probably fields the largest team of barristers in this field in the UK. Our team offers advice and representation in all areas of the law relating to Romani Gypsies and Travellers, including:
- planning inquiries and hearings following the refusal of planning permission or the service of enforcement notices
- statutory challenges and appeals to the High Court under sections 288 and 289 of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990
- criminal planning enforcement proceedings in both the Magistrates' and Crown Court
- proceedings relating to removal directions issued under the Criminal Justice and Public Order Act 1994
- possession proceedings
- both injunction and committal proceedings relating to the breach of planning control
- judicial review proceedings relating to the enforcement of planning control and the eviction of Romani Gypsies and Travellers from land by other means
- cases concerning the provision of health and education and other services to members of the Romani Gypsy and Traveller community and
- cases relating to discrimination faced by Romani Gypsies and Travellers
Members of the team regularly speak at conferences on Romani Gypsy and Traveller law and provide training on the various aspects of the subject in both the United Kingdom and Europe. Three of our members are co-authors of the main textbook on the subject, Gypsy and Traveller Law (LAG 2007 - 2nd edition) and members also contribute regularly to legal journals.
Our barristers have appeared in many of the leading cases in this area, including:
Medhurst v Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government  EWHC 3576 (Admin).
In this case a Romani Gypsy unsuccessfully argued that the meaning of 'gypsies and Travellers' within Circular 1/2006 (now replaced by Planning policy for traveller sites) was incompatible with Article 8 of the Convention. Click here to read the judgement.
R (Mary Michelle Sheridan and Others) v Basildon BC  EWHC 2938 (Admin).
The Irish Traveller residents of Dale Farm were unsuccessful in their judicial review challenge against the local authority's decision to take direct action to evict them from their plots on the site. The case was heard at first instance by Ouseley J. Lord Justice Sullivan who refused a renewed application for permission made to the Court of Appeal. Click here for more information.
Patrick Egan v Basildon Borough Council  EWHC 2416 (QB).
The residents of Dale Farm obtained an injunction which restrained the local authority from exceeding the scope of extant enforcement notices and its powers to take direct action to secure compliance with the notices.
Secretary of State for Environment Food and Rural Affairs v Meier and others  UKSC 11.
This was a case concerning a claim for a wide possession order and a supporting injunction brought against New Travellers encamped on woodland managed by the Forestry Commission. The Supreme Court held that an injunction which restrained the Travellers from camping on the land they occupied and other parcels of land in the area could stand but that a wide possession order which covered land which it owned but was not subject to unauthorised occupation at the time when the order was made, should be discharged. In so doing, the Supreme Court also overturned the Court of Appeal's decision in this case and its decision in the earlier case of Drury v Secretary of State for the Environment  EWCA Civ 200.
Rafferty v Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government  EWCA Civ 809.
In this case the Court of Appeal concluded that article 8 is a relevant consideration when decision makers considered whether to grant a Romani Gypsy family planning permission whether or not the family was occupying the land for which permission is being sought at the time the decision is made.
O'Brien v South Cambridgeshire DC  EWCA Civ 1159.
In this case the Court of Appeal made it clear that local planning authorities must consider for themselves the equality implications of enforcing planning control.
Baker v Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government  EWCA Civ 141.
The Court of Appeal established that race equality (now public sector equality) issues are a material consideration in planning decisions whether at first instance or on appeal.
South Cambridgeshire DC v Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government and Julie Brown  EWCA Civ 1010.
A local authority's application to quash a planning inspector's decision to grant a Romani Gypsy family planning permission was dismissed by the Court of Appeal.
South Cambridgeshire DC v Harry Price and Others  EWHC 1234 Admin.
A local authority's application for a planning injunction was dismissed on grounds it would violate the article 8 rights of the defendant Romani Gypsy families.
R (McCarthy and Others) v Basildon DC and the Equality and Human Rights Commission  EWHC 987.
A judicial review challenge to a decision to take direct action to evict a large encampment of Irish Travellers. The decision was quashed.
R (Lisa Smith) v London Development Agency and SSTI  EWHC 1013 (Admin).
A statutory challenge to the Compulsory Purchase Order of land used as a Romani Gypsy site for the purposes of the Olympics. The challenge was dismissed.
Leeds City Council v Price  UKHL 10.
The House of Lords concluded that the eviction of Romani Gypsies and Irish Travellers from public land did not breach their human rights. It held that in a case where there was an inconsistency between a judgment of the House of Lords and a judgment of the ECtHR, domestic courts were bound to follow the House of Lords' decision.
Smith v First Secretary of State and Mid Beds DC  JPL 386.
A case where the Court of Appeal quashed a planning inspector's decision to refuse a Romani Gypsy family planning permission because he had wrongly taken into account the local residents' 'fear of crime' when there was no evidential basis for the existence of such a fear.
Codona v Mid-Bedfordshire DC  HLR 1.
A homelessness case where the Court of Appeal upheld the offer of bricks and mortar accommodation as temporary housing to a Romani Gypsy when there were no sites available.
First Secretary of State, Grant Doe and Others v Chichester DC  EWCA Civ 1248.
A case in which the Court of Appeal upheld a planning inspector's decision to grant Romani Gypsies planning permission and his conclusion that to refuse them permission would breach their human rights.
South Bucks DC v Porter (No.2)  1 WLR 1953.
This was the second House of Lords case concerning the Porter family. Their Lordships upheld the decision to grant the family planning permission and gave guidance to planning inspectors on the extent to which they needed to give reasons for their decisions.
R (Margaret Price) v Carmarthenshire CC  EWHC 42 Admin.
The court quashed a decision to evict an Irish Traveller from her land. She had made a homelessness application and the council had failed to consider whether she had a cultural aversion to bricks and mortar and, if so, whether there was any other suitable accommodation.
South Bucks DC v Porter (No.1)  2 AC 558.
It was decided by the House of Lords that a court determining an application for an injunction to stop Romani Gypsies and Travellers living in caravans on their land, without planning permission, should take account of a variety of considerations, including the personal circumstances and human rights of the defendants.
Clarke v Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and Regions  JPL 552.
In this case the Court of Appeal held that when a Romani Gypsy sought planning permission for a caravan site and had a cultural aversion to bricks and mortar, it could breach his human rights to take account of an offer of conventional housing that had been made to him.
Coster v United Kingdom  33 EHRR 20.
One of four Gypsy cases that were heard together with the lead case of Chapman v UK. The ECtHR decided that planning enforcement action did not breach the human rights of the Romani Gypsy families concerned, but that the State had a positive obligation to facilitate the Gypsy way of life.
R v Lincolnshire CC ex parte Atkinson (1995) 8 Admin LR 529.
A case concerning the need for local authorities to take account of considerations of common humanity and to carry out welfare enquiries before deciding whether to evict Romani Gypsies and Travellers from their land
Members of the Romani Gypsy and Traveller Rights team are listed below - click on their names to go to their profiles.