The Supreme Court has recently passed down judgment (in Wolverhampton City Council and others v London Gypsies and Travellers and others [2023] UKSC 47) affirming the opinion of the Court of Appeal that it is lawful for the courts to grant injunctions which are brought against "persons unknown", even in the case where no threat to come onto land has been made – so called "newcomer" injunctions.


Several injunctions had been obtained by local authorities in England between 2015-2020, which prevented Gypsies and Travellers from being able to camp on land owned by the local authorities. They were sought against "persons unknown", because at the time the Gypsies and Travellers had not camped on the site, nor had they threatened to camp on the site.

The local authorities sought to extend the injunctions and so a review of their validity was ordered. The High Court held that courts did not have the power to grant newcomer injunctions, but this decision was overturned on appeal and now affirmed by the Supreme Court, which said:

"there is nothing in this consideration which calls into question the development of newcomer injunctions as a matter of principle, and we are satisfied they have been and remain a valuable and proportionate remedy in appropriate cases".

Test for Newcomer Injunctions

Giving some guidance, the Supreme Court laid down five factors to be met to award an injunction:

* There is a compelling need for the injunction for the protection of civil rights

* Procedural steps are taken to protect the rights of newcomers which includes taking all reasonable steps to notify those likely to be affected of the application

* Strict duty of disclosure applies to the applicant so that they show everything that may have been said by the targeted newcomers

* The injunctions are limited only to the extent they are required for the circumstances relied upon

* It is just and convenient for the injunction to be granted


This judgment brings certainty to the use of injunctions against persons unknown, doing away with the tricky challenge of proving a threat of trespass. The test set by the Court does suggest there is high bar to satisfy and that newcomer injunctions will not be granted in every case.

If you are a commercial landlord or a landowner dealing with issues of occupational protest or trespass or you have any questions about how these issues may impact you or your business, please do not hesitate to get in touch with our Real Estate Disputes team or your usual Brodies' contact.


Lucie Barnes


Harry Briggs

Trainee Solicitor