Romani Gypsy and Traveller Rights

"The Romani Gypsy and Traveller Team at Garden Court is the only such dedicated team in the country. We do not know what we would do without their expert, friendly and efficient advice for our clients."

Chris Johnson, Community Law Partnership

“The first point of call for any Gypsy or Traveller planning matters.”

Chambers UK Bar Guide

Garden Court is the leading set of chambers in the UK specialising in Romani, Gypsy and Traveller rights. We are the only such dedicated team of barristers in the UK

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Top Ranked Chambers UK Bar 2019
Legal 500 Top Tier Set 2019

We have a proud history of defending the rights of Romani Gypsies and Travellers. Our barristers have won many landmark cases in the courts over the last 20 years.

Our barristers have authored the leading legal textbooks and articles in this field. We regularly advise bodies such as the Equality & Human Rights Commission and the Council of Europe and also work with the European Roma Rights Centre, Friends Families and Travellers, London Gypsies and Travellers, the Traveller Movement and Derbyshire Gypsy Liaison Group.

OUR EXPERTISE

Our team offers advice and representation in all areas of 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
  • Other cases concerning the provision of caravan sites, housing, health and education and services to members of the Romani Gypsy and Traveller community
  • Cases relating to discrimination faced by Romani Gypsies and Travellers

 

SEMINARS, PUBLICATIONS AND TRAINING

Our barristers 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). 

Marc Willers QC, Joint Head of Garden Court Chambers, is the editor of the Council of Europe’s handbook for lawyers defending Roma and Travellers, Ensuring access to rights for Roma and Travellers – The role of the European Court of Human Rights (2014). 

Our barristers also regularly contribute articles to Travellers Times

 

Notable Cases

 

Mulvenna and Smith v Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government (SSCLG) and the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) [2017] EWCA Civ 1850
These two judicial review claims followed Moore and Coates v SSCLG and EHRC [2015] EWHC 44 (Admin) in which Gilbart J found the Secretary of State had unlawfully discriminated against Romani Gypsies/Irish Travellers by recovering all Gypsy/Traveller caravan site planning appeals for his own determination in breach of the Equality Act 2010 and Articles 8 and 14 of the European Convention on Human Rights (the Convention). The claimants argued that the Secretary of State’s unlawful recovery of their appeals had a ‘domino effect’ which rendered his own appeal decisions unlawful. The EHRC supported that argument but Cranston J rejected it and the Court of Appeal upheld his decision.

Wetherspoons discriminated against Irish Travellers, 18 May 2015 

High Court finds the Government discriminated against Romany Gypsies and Irish Travellers, 21 January 2015

R (Mary Michelle Sheridan and Others) v Basildon BC [2011] 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.

Secretary of State for Environment Food and Rural Affairs v Meier and others [2009] 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 [2004] EWCA Civ 200.

Leeds City Council v Price [2006] 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.

South Bucks DC v Porter (No.2) [2004] 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 [2003] 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) [2003] 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 [2002] 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 [2001] 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.

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