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TRESPASS TO LAND
Trespass to land is a direct interference with land which is in immediate possession of another
without lawful justification.
The interference must be direct for example leaning on a wall (GREGORY v PIPER), leaning a ladder on
the wall (WESTRIPP v BALDOCK), walking on the land, throwing stones on the land and refusing to
leave when permission to be there has been withdrawn.
The interference must be physical and can happen by entry onto the land in any way, remaining on
the land when a license has been revoked (ROBSON v HALLETT) but C must give D reasonable packing
up time before they are a trespasser, placing things on the land (ARTHUR v ANKER) or continuous
trespass by leaving goods on the land for example (HOLMES v WILSON).
Land includes ground beneath the surface (COX v MOULSEY) and airspace (KELSEN v IMPERIAL
TOBACCO CO) held D liable for advertisement on the property, in BERNSTEIN v SKYVIEWS & GENERAL
D was not liable as the rights are only to a reasonable height but the court in ANCHOR BREWHOUSE
DEVELOPMENTS AND OTHERS v BERKLEY HOUSE held that BERNSTEIN only applied to aircraft not
There is no trespass to a highway is it is being used as a right of passage or something incidental to
the journey however any other use will be a trespass to land as shown in HICKMAN v MAISEY where D
abused his right of passage.
C must have proprietary rights in order to sue. These come from HUNTER v CANARY WHARF and
include a freeholder in possession (owner), leaseholder in possession (renter) and licensee in
As with the basic principle in English law ignorance is no defence (CONWAY v WIMPEY) so not
knowing the land belonged to somebody else does not count but no intention of D to enter land is
not a trespass (SMITH V STONE). The case of LEAGUE AGAINST CRUEL SPORTS V SCOTT held the
Master of the Hounds would not be liable unless it was intent to encourage hounds to trespass or
there was negligence allowing hounds to trespass and this makes it easier for C to sue for trespass
Lawful justification is a possible defence available to D. A lawful justification is having a license. There
is no trespass to land if D enters the land with C's express or implied permission. The key question is
in what circumstances can C revoke D's license? If the license is free then it can be revoked at any
time as long as D has reasonable packing up time (ROBSON v HALLETT). For a contractual right it is less
clear if the license is revocable as it was in WOOD v LEADBITTER but not in HURST v PICTURE
THEATRES, although HURST has not overruled WOOD it is considered better law. In WINTER GARDEN
THEATRE v MILLENIUM PRODUCTIONS the C had not intended to create a perpetual license which
implies the contract would end with reasonable notice.
Acts that may be a trespass are not if they are carried out with lawful authority for example police
entering a property under PACE. In JEFFERY v BLACK the police officer was liable as they did not have
permission to search for drugs and so were a trespasser ab initio (from the start).
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It is also possible to use the defence of necessity as D can enter C's land to prevent a greater evil, as
shown in RIGBY v CHIEF CONSTABLE OF NORTHAMPTONSHIRE where there was no trespass to land
but there was negligence.
Damages are one of the key remedies for trespass to land. When the trespass is trivial the damages
received will be nominal. Compensatory damages are used to be C in the position C would have been
in had there been no trespass.…read more