High Court grants injunction to prevent protests occurring at three major airports

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On Friday 5 July 2024, the High Court granted injunctions to prevent protestors from carrying out protests at Manchester Airport, Stansted Airport and East Midlands Airport.

Her Honour Judge Coe KC considered the requirements of Wolverhampton City Council v London Gypsies and Travellers [2023] UKSC 47 as recently summarised by Ritchie J in Valero Energy Ltd v Persons Unknown [2024] EWHC 134 (KB). The judge was satisfied that the evidence showed there was a compelling need on the evidence in light of the serious harm that would be caused if protests were carried out at the airports and given the threat evidenced by Just Stop Oil’s “summer airports campaign” and the protest which had already occurred at Stansted.

Of particular interest, was the identification of the protestors: the judge departed from the approach in the protestors cases concerning highways and oil refineries and made an injunction against those persons whose purpose was to protest at the airports or on an aeroplane and who entered onto the site for that purpose as well as persons who protest on the premises (whether in connection with Just Stop Oil, Extinction Rebellion or otherwise). 

Another notable facet of the judge’s decision was her approach to the existence of byelaws in respect of the airports in light of the Supreme Court’s comments in Wolverhampton. She concluded that the prosecuting an infringing the byelaws (much like other criminal offences) necessarily took place after the action had occurred on the sites and would not prevent the harm the claimants sought to avoid, unlike the injunctions.

As a result, the judge granted injunctions in respect of each airport, to be reviewed in 12 months’ time.

Timothy Morshead K.C. and Evie Barden acted for the claimants, instructed by a team from Eversheds Sutherlands LLP of Stuart Wortley, Nawaaz Allybokus, Alex Wright and George Robinson.

Links to press coverage here and here

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