House of Lords ruling against travellers creates precedent for local authorities

Leeds City Council’s legal team has won a groundbreaking House of Lords victory that has set down a human rights precedent for local authorities nationwide.

The Maloney family of travellers claimed that the council’s decision to evict them from a public football field breached their human rights, but their appeal was unanimously dismissed by a seven-strong House of Lords bench on 8 March.

Leeds City Council head of community services and litigation Ian Spafford said: "The bottom line is that domestic law on this point has been clarified, meaning that there’s no real impediment to local authorities taking the line they always have.

"Future proceedings will end at the county court," Spafford added, meaning evictions will be completed in "two weeks at the very most".

The travellers had claimed that, by evicting them from the ground, Leeds City Council had breached their human rights under Article 8 of the European Convention.

But in a decision that will determine scores of similar cases in future, the law lords said that the family’s links with the site were not sufficiently estab- lished for it to be consid- ered a home within the meaning of the convention.

Leeds City Council’s legal team led the fight, instructing Ashley Underwood QC of Landmark Chambers.

The travellers were represented by Jan Luba QC of Garden Court Chambers, instructed by Leeds firm Davies Gore Lomax.

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