Russell Fortt acts for Home Secretary in an ECHR compatibility challenge

15 May 2024

Russell Fortt acts for Home Secretary in an ECHR compatibility challenge in Smith (Claimant); Friends Families and Travellers; Liberty (Interveners) v Secretary of State v Home Department [2024] EWHC 1137 Admin (Swift J).

The challenge was to the compatibility of amendments to the Criminal Justice and Public Order Act 1994 Articles 8, 14 which amongst other things created a new offence of residing on land without the consent of the land owner in circumstances where significant damage or disruption has occurred or is likely to occur and following a direction by the land owner to leave the land.

The amendments also created an associated power of seizure and forfeiture of vehicles present on land in such circumstances.

The Claimant and interveners argue that the amendments were unnecessary and discriminatory in that they interfered with the travelling community’s ability to carry on its traditional way of life.

Swift J dismissed the challenge except in one narrow respect – finding that the related change to the non-return period from 3 to 12 months was not justified (alternative transit sites can only be used for a maximum of 3 months) and was therefore incompatible with Arts 8 and 14.


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