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Sport clubs should consider injunctions to prevent access to grounds by trespassers

Out-Law Analysis | 17 Jan 2018 | 9:41 am | 1 min. read

ANALYSIS: Injunctions give sport clubs a useful tool to prevent access to grounds by 'urban free climbers' and other trespassers.

The substantial rise in unauthorised access by these climbers is becoming an increasing problem for clubs, with Chelsea Football Club in the news just before Christmas after taking out an injunction against six named individuals, as well as any unnamed individuals in the future. Free climbers trespass onto property in order to climb buildings, cranes, antennae, stadia and other structures, with many filming their actions and posting videos on social media platforms such as YouTube.

Trespassing is a problem for a number of reasons. Unlawful access can cause damage to buildings or property, can lead to the injury or death of the trespassers, increase the cost of on-site security and be a nuisance to those people who use the site lawfully.

The courts in England and Wales are prepared to grant injunctions to prevent trespassers from accessing a site in appropriate circumstances. Injunctions can cover a wide range of individuals, including specific individuals, whose identity is known, who have already trespassed or who intend to trespass on the site. They can also cover 'Persons Unknown' if there is evidence that there is an ongoing risk that others may try to access a site or premises without the consent of the owner.

The benefit of an injunction is that it contains a 'Penal Notice', which means that an individual may be held to be in contempt of court and imprisoned if he or she breaks the terms of the injunction. This acts as a very useful deterrent. The injunction also sends out a strong message that trespassing will not be tolerated, and should prevent known individuals from trespassing again as well as acting as a deterrent to others.

Pinsent Masons, the law firm behind Out-Law.com, succeeded in obtaining an injunction to prevent named individuals from entering onto a client's premises worldwide after recent security breaches, as well as an injunction to prevent persons unknown from trespassing on the client's sites in the UK. The team advised on the application itself, and dealt with related matters such as serving the injunction and advertising the injunction on the client's website.

Julian Diaz-Rainey is a sports law expert at Pinsent Masons, the law firm behind Out-Law.com.