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

To contact the Romani Gypsy and Traveller Rights Clerks, please email publiclawclerks@gclaw.co.uk or phone

+44 (0)20 7993 7600

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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

 

Recent notable cases and news

Nick Bano, Ollie Persey and Mia Hakl-Law shortlisted for LALY Awards 2024

Our warmest congratulations to Nick, Ollie and Mia for this outstanding achievement.

20 May 2024

High Court issues declaration of incompatibility finding that provisions in the Police Act unlawfully discriminate against Gypsies and Travellers

The successful claimant was represented by Marc Willers KC and Ollie Persey of Garden Court Chambers. Stephen Simblet KC and Nadia O’Mara of Garden Court Chambers acted for the First Intervener, Friends, Families and Travellers.

14 May 2024

Government to be challenged in High Court over ‘discriminatory’ PCSC Act

FFT will be represented by Stephen Simblet KC and Nadia O’Mara of Garden Court Chambers. Wendy Smith will be represented by Marc Willers KC and Ollie Persey of Garden Court Chambers.

16 January 2024

Supreme Court rules wide injunctions have negative impact on Gypsies and Travellers' ability to pursue traditional nomadic way of life

Marc Willers KC, Tessa Buchanan & Owen Greenhall represented London Gypsies and Travellers (LGT), Friends Families and Travellers (FFT) and the Derbyshire Gypsy Liaison Group (DGLG). Stephanie Harrison KC, Stephen Clark & Fatima Jichi represented FFT.

29 November 2023

Welsh Ministers concede appeal of planning inspector's decision brought by a Traveller

Tim Baldwin of the Garden Court Romani Gypsy & Traveller Rights Team acted for the appellant Traveller, instructed by Michael Imperato of Watkins & Gunn Solicitors.

13 November 2023

Garden Court secures top tier rankings in the Legal 500 UK 2024

Garden Court Chambers is proud to be recognised as a Top Tier set again in the Legal 500 UK 2024 rankings.

4 October 2023

High Court in Cardiff grants Traveller permission to appeal planning inspector's decision

Tim Baldwin of Garden Court Romani Gypsy & Traveller Rights Team acted for the appellant, instructed by Michael Imperato of Watkins & Gunn Solicitors.

3 October 2023

Marc Willers KC delivers oral submissions to UK Covid-19 Inquiry Module 4

Marc Willers KC leads Chris Jacobs of Landmark Chambers, instructed by Martin Howe of Howe & Co.

14 September 2023

Permission granted in High Court challenge to law that criminalises Gypsies, Roma and Travellers

The claimant, Ms Smith, is represented by Marc Willers KC and Ollie Persey of Garden Court Chambers, alongside Richard Drabble KC of Landmark Chambers. They are instructed by Chris Johnson of Community Law Partnership (‘CLP’).

20 July 2023

High Court issues declaration of incompatibility with the Human Rights Act 1998

Stephen Cottle of the Garden Court Housing Team represented the first defendant, instructed by Chris Johnson of Community Law Partnership.

6 July 2023

Kathryn Cronin and Danielle Manson shortlisted at Legal Aid Lawyer of the Year Awards 2023

We are delighted to announce that Kathryn Cronin and Danielle Manson of Garden Court Chambers have both been shortlisted for the Legal Aid Lawyer of the Year Awards 2023 (LALYs).

19 May 2023

Tom Wainwright and Justine Compton appointed as Recorders

We are delighted to announce Tom Wainwright (Call: 2003) and Justine Compton (Call: 2005) of Garden Court Chambers have been newly appointed as Recorders by the Queen on the advice of the Lord Chancellor and the Lord Chief Justice of England and Wales.

18 May 2023

Irena Sabic KC appointed Deputy King’s Bench Master

Garden Court Chambers is delighted to announce that our colleague Irena Sabic KC has been appointed by the Lord Chief Justice as a Deputy King’s Bench Master, based at the Royal Courts of Justice.

11 May 2023

Court of Appeal quashes an unlawful notice served by Local Authority seeking eviction of Irish Travellers from a temporary site in Ramsgate Harbour

Tim Baldwin of Garden Court Chambers acted on behalf of the Claimant, SO, leading Lara Simak of 12 Old Square Chambers.

14 April 2023

DLA Briefing: Planning definition of Gypsies and Travellers unlawfully discriminatory

Marc Willers KC and Tessa Buchanan of Garden Court Chambers appeared for the successful appellant, instructed by Keith Coughtrie of Deighton Pierce Glynn.

6 March 2023

Government’s planning definition of Gypsies and Travellers unlawfully discriminatory

Marc Willers KC and Tessa Buchanan of Garden Court Chambers appeared for the successful appellant.

7 November 2022

"The Gypsy and Traveller way of life is being legislated out of existence" - Legal opinion commissioned by Good Law Project

Marc Willers QC, Tessa Buchanan, and Owen Greenhall of Garden Court Chambers were commissioned by the Good Law Project to survey the legal landscape for Gypsy and Traveller groups to assess whether it complies with the UK’s legal obligations.

30 June 2022

Garden Court secures number one rankings in Chambers UK Bar Guide 2022

21 October 2021

Tessa Buchanan wins Legal Aid Barrister of the Year and Audrey Cherryl Mogan wins Legal Aid Newcomer of the Year at 2021 LALY Awards

Garden Court Chambers is delighted to announce that two of our barristers won awards at the annual Legal Aid Lawyer of the Year Awards on 6 July 2021.

8 July 2021

Gypsy and Traveller injunctions against 'newcomers’ ruled unlawful

Marc Willers QC, Tessa Buchanan, and Owen Greenhall, of the Garden Court Chambers Romani Gypsy and Traveller Rights Team, acted for the three Interveners, instructed by Chris Johnson of the Community Law Partnership.

12 May 2021

Government in court today over planning rules for Travellers

Marc Willers QC and Tessa Buchanan of the Garden Court Chambers Romani Gypsy and Traveller Rights team represent Lisa Smith, instructed by Keith Coughtrie of Deighton Pierce Glynn.

10 December 2020

Garden Court Chambers welcomes Paul Powlesland as a new tenant

4 August 2020

Landmark Court of Appeal judgment criticises the use of wide injunctions which target Gypsy and Traveller encampments

Marc Willers QC and Tessa Buchanan of Garden Court Chambers were instructed by Chris Johnson of the Community Law Partnership. London Gypsies and Travellers intervened in the case with Liberty.

21 January 2020

New edition of 'Gypsy and Traveller Law' published by Legal Action Group

'Gypsy and Traveller Law' is edited by Marc Willers QC of Garden Court Chambers. Garden Court co-authors are Marc Willers QC, David Watkinson, Stephen Cottle, Desmond Rutledge, Owen Greenhall and Tessa Buchanan.

6 January 2020

Ripping the heart out of the Nomad Nation

By Marc Willers QC, Garden Court Chambers and Chris Johnson, Travellers Advice Team at Community Law Partnership.

18 November 2019

Discrimination facing Gypsies, Roma and Travellers in the UK today

Marc Willers QC and Tim Baldwin, Garden Court Chambers, set out an overview of the discrimination and socio-economic disadvantages experienced by Gypsies, Roma and Travellers in the UK which, despite equality legislation and legal protection for their tra

4 July 2019

Marc Willers QC named Times Lawyer of the Week

We're delighted to announce that Marc has been named Times Lawyer of the Week

31 May 2019

High Court rules against local authority encampment ban

London Gypsies and Travellers were the interveners, represented pro bono by Marc Willers QC and Tessa Buchanan, both of Garden Court.

17 May 2019

All we need are sites

By Chris Johnson of CLP and Marc Willers QC of Garden Court Chambers

20 September 2018

Marc Willers QC appointed as trustee of the European Roma Rights Centre

The ERRC work to combat anti-Romani racism and protect human rights of Roma through strategic litigation, research, policy development, advocacy and education.

5 December 2017

Bach Commission report calls for Rights to Justice Act and far wider eligibility for legal aid

Garden Court Chambers contributed evidence to the Bach Commission.

22 September 2017

Proof magazine #3: ‘Life in the Justice Gap: Why legal aid matters’ launch supported by Garden Court Chambers

Garden Court Chambers is proud to sponsor Proof magazine. The third issue of Proof was co-produced by the Justice Gap and the Justice Alliance.

20 July 2017

Past 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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