The unlawful occupation of land by someone other than the owner is called trespass. Squatting is the most common example of trespassing. For now trespassing is a civil wrong but law may change in the coming years to make it a criminal offence. There are many other examples of trespassing which include dumping rubbish on another’s land, entering another’s airspace, remaining in premises after the lease has expired, and excavating below the surface by mining or otherwise.
The facts giving rise to trespass claims might as well give rise to a claim for adverse possession and boundary dispute.
Although there is an accelerated county court procedure for obtaining an order for possession in case of trespass by squatting, the procedure is often cumbersome owing to the inability of the county courts to dispense with cases quickly enough. An order can be obtained much more quickly in the High Court but since the High Court has limited jurisdiction proceedings can commence in the High Court in exceptional circumstances only. The existing circumstances can be analysed to see if there is urgency.
Although the courts might not favour self-help in some circumstances it might be possible to take possession from trespassers in absence of a court order. However, in case of a residential property, they are unlikely to exist.
Our team advises and represents both owners and occupiers on all issues related to trespass.