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Romani Gypsy and Traveller Rights

Some of the legislation

Social Landlords Order 2006 (Permissable Additional Purposes – England) relating to the provision of Gypsy and Traveller sites (original text only)
Criminal Justice and Public Order Act 1994

Some of our recent notable cases

R (Flynn & Sheridan) v Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government (2014)
Regarding the right to appeal against an enforcement notice under the Town and Country Planning Act 1990 requiring the removal of caravans from an access track.
[2014] EWHC 390 (Admin) 20/2/2014
Stephen Cottle

Moore v Secretary of State for Local Government (2013)
Whether Inspector required to make a finding in relation to whether Romani Gypsy would have somewhere to move to if refused permission and whether refusal of a temporary permission in the Green Belt was irrational. The Court of Appeal said it was.
[2013] EWCA Civ 1194 9/10/2013
Stephen Cottle

R (Knowles & Anor) v Secretary of State for Work and Pensions (2013)
Human rights challenge brought on behalf of two Romani Gypsies who faced a significant shortfall in their rent due to the way housing benefit is calculated on privately owned caravan sites. The Court held that the differential treatment of Romani Gypsies under the housing benefit scheme was objectively justified.
[2013] EWHC 19 (Admin) 17/1/2013
Marc Willers and Desmond Rutledge

Slattery, Sheridan & Slattery v Basildon Borough Council (2012)
Three linked appeals under s.204 Housing Act 1996 on behalf of Travellers and former Dale Farm residents who had rejected offers of bricks and mortar accommodation as unsuitable. Of the three appeals, one was allowed and this was significant as it successfully challenged the offer of bricks and mortar as suitable accommodation.
Southend County Court 21/12/2012
Alex Offer

Buckland v UK (2012)
Acted on behalf of Maria Buckland, a Romani Gypsy. The Court held that Ms Buckland’s Article 8 rights had been violated in a case where she had been denied the possibility of challenging possession proceedings brought in the UK courts on the grounds that a possession order would be disproportionate in view of her personal circumstances.
ECHR App no. 40060/08 18/9/12
Marc Willers

Patrick Egan v Basildon Borough Council (2011)
Case involving the Dale Farm site in which the Court considered the extent to which enforcement notices gave the Council the power to take direct action to remove unauthorised development on the site.
[2011] EWHC 2416 26/9/2011
Marc Willers

Broxbourne Borough Council v Robb & Ors (2011) (no link available)
These were committal proceedings brought against an Irish Traveller who had unwittingly breached an injunction by residing in a caravan with his family on land without planning permission. The Court refused to vary the injunction and imposed a suspended sentence of imprisonment which forced him to leave the land with his family despite the fact that there was a planning appeal pending. Permission to appeal was refused by the Court of Appeal. However, the planning appeal was subsequently successful and the family can now return to the site.
[2011] EWHC 1626 27/6/2011
Marc Willers

Doran v Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government and Central Bedfordshire Council (2010) (no link available)
Irish Traveller case – an unsuccessful challenge brought in respect of an Inspector’s decision on the basis that he had failed to take account of the Claimant’s personal circumstances and misunderstood and misapplied policy on the grant of temporary planning permission.
[2010] EWHC Admin, 19/7/2011. Reported at [2010] All ER (D) 174
Marc Willers

Secretary of State for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs v Meier and Ors (2009)
Supreme Court ruled that the Court had no power to make a wide possession order in circumstances where part of the land to which it related had not been occupied by the Travellers.
[2009] UKSC 11 1/12/2009. Reported at [2009] 1 WLR 2780
Marc Willers

Brentwood Borough Council v Ball and others (2009)
Where a local authority was considering an injunction against a gypsy unlawfully occupying land, any resulting hardship to the child of the gypsy should be considered fully despite alleged conduct of parent.
[2009] EWHC 2433 8/10/2009
Michale Paget

Rafferty v Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government (2009)
Planning decision preventing gypsies from moving their caravans onto land they own as much a breach of Article 8 as a decision requiring them to move off – accordingly Article 8 relevant to a planning permission decision even when the gypsies are not occupying the land for which permission is being sought at the time the decision is made.
[2009] EWCA Civ 809 29/7/09. Reported at (2009) 31 EG 72.
David Watkinson

R (McCann) v Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government and Basildon DC (2009) (no link available)
Inspector’s decision challenged on number of grounds including the interpretation of the meaning of Gypsies and Travellers laid down by the government in Circular 1/06. Decision quashed on other grounds.
[2009] EWHC 917 Admin 24/3/2009
Marc Willers

South Cambridgeshire District Council v Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government and Julie Brown (2008)
A local authority’s application to quash a planning inspector’s decision to grant a Gypsy family planning permission was dismissed by the Court of Appeal.
[2008] EWCA Civ 1010 5/9/2008. Reported at (2009) ACD 13
Marc Willers

South Cambridgeshire District Council v Price and Ors (2008) (no link available)
A local authority’s application for a planning injunction was dismissed on grounds that it would violate the Article 8 rights of the defendent Gypsy families.
[2008] EWHC 1234 5/6/2008
Marc Willers

McCarthy & Ors v Basildon District Council and Equality & Human Rights Commission (Intervenor) (2008)
A judicial review challenge to a decision by local authority to take direct action under the Town and Country Planning Act 1990 s.178 to evict a large encampment of Irish travellers.
[2008] EWHC 987 (Admin) 9/5/2008. Reported at (2008) 19 EG 205
David Watkinson and Marc Willers

Smith (on behalf of the Gypsy Council) v Buckland (2007)
Whether eviction of gypsy resident on a local authority caravan site was contrary to Article 8 ECHR.
[2007] EWCA Civ 1318 12/12/2007. Reported at (2008) 1 WLR 661
Jan Luba QC

Lisa Smith, Reilly v Secretary of State for trade & Industry and London Development Agency (2007)
Application for judicial review of the compulsory purchase order made by the LDA of traveller caravan sites for the London Olympics
[2007] EWHC 1013 (Admin) 3/5/2007. Reported at (2007) NPC 56
Marc Willers

R (Jeeves and Baker) v Gravesham BC (2006)
Gypsies – non-determination of planning application by local authority
[2006] EWHC 1249 Admin 10/5/06
Marc Willers

Wychavon DC v Rafferty (2006)
Gypsies – committal for breach of a planning injunction
[2006] EWCA Civ 628 27/4/06. Reported at (2006) 18 EG 150 (CS)
Marc Willers

R (O’Brien) v Basildon DC (2006) (no link)
Gypsies – direct action of local authority – article 8 of the ECHR
[2006] EWHC 1346 Admin 12/4/06
Marc Willers

South Bucks DC v Smith (2006)
Gypsies – planning injunction – stay pending the determination of a fresh planning application
[2006] EWHC 281 23/2/06. Reported at (2006) NPC 22
Marc Willers

Wilson v Wychavon DC and FSS (2005)
Gypsies stop notices – compatibility of legislation with articles 8 and 14 of the ECHR
[2005] EWHC 2970 20/12/05. Reported at (2005) NPC 151
Marc Willers

Smith v FSS and Mid Beds DC (2005)
Gypsies – planning – discrimination
[2005] EWHC Civ 859 21/7/05. Reported at (2005) NPC 99
Marc Willers

Wycombe DC v Wells (2005)
Gypsies – enforcement notices – the scope of the statutory defence
[2005] EWHC 1012 23/5/05. Reported at (2005) NPC 75
Marc Willers

Chichester DC v 1st SoS and Doe, Yates and anor (2004)
Gypsies, planning inquiries and the impact of the Human Rights Act
[2004] EWCA Civ 1248 29/9/04. Reported at [2005] 1 WLR 279
David Watkinson

Coates v South Bucks DC (2004)
Gypsies – planning injunction – article 8 of the ECHR and proportionality test
[2004] EWCA Civ 1378 22/10/04. Reported at [2005] JPL 668
Marc Willers

South Bucks DC v Porter and Wrexham County Borough Council v Berry (2003)
ECHR and granting of an injunction under Town and Country Planning Act 1990
[2003] UKHL 26 22/5/03. Reported at [2003] 2 WLR 1547
Stephen Cottle

Smith v London Borough of Barking and Dagenham & Anr (2003) (no link)
Re. security of tenure for gypsies on council caravan sites
[2003] EWCA Civ 385 5/3/03
Jan Luba QC and Valerie Easty

R (Price) v Carmarthenshire CC (2003) (no link)
Travellers entitled to pitches under homelessness legislation as ‘suitable accommodation’
[2003] EWHC 42 24/1/03. Reported at [2003] NPC 9
Stephen Knafler

R (application Piggott) v Bedfordshire County Council (2002) (no link)
Unlawful to prevent trespassing traveller having plot on travellers’ site
[2002] EWHC 77 Admin 17/1/02. Reported at Times LR 29/1/2002
Stephen Simblet

South Bucks District Council v Porter (2001)
Gypsies and planning injunctions and the Human Rights Act
[2001] EWCA Civ 1549 12/10/01. Reported at [2002] 1 All ER 425
David Watkinson

Ward v London Borough of Hillingdon (2001) (no link)
Eviction from a travellers’ site
[2001] EWHC 40 Admin 15/2/01. Reported at (2001) HRLR 825
Stephen Simblet

Other useful links

‘Gypsy and Traveller Law’ edited by Garden Court Chambers barrister Marc Willers QC under the Legal Action Group.


Planning Guidance for Gypsy and Traveller sites (Planning Policy for Traveller Sites 2012)
Friends, Families and Travellers organisation
European Roma Rights Centre
Gypsy and Traveller Support Groups
Traveller Law Reform Project
London Gypsy and Traveller Unit
National Federation of Gypsy Liason Groups