Michael Paget, who acted for the Representative Defendant of Occupy London, comments on what the decision means.
I want to address two topics following the Occupy London decision. One touches on the legal impact of the decision and one considers lessons from the case for other campaigners.
The Occupy London campers were, yesterday, refused permission to appeal by the Court of Appeal, with Lord Neuberger MR presiding, from the injunctions and possession orders that were granted by Lindblom J on 18 January 2012. This means that the Corporation of London can now enforce these orders as soon as they want. No date is yet set for enforcement and, apparently for operational reasons, the Corporation of London is refusing to tell the campers when steps will begin.
Amongst the various reasons given for refusing permission to appeal the court considered that the onus was on the parties to set out all the different ways that relief could be granted to a claimant causing the least intrusion to the campers’ engaged article 10 and article 11 rights. It seems that the Court of Appeal did not accept that there was a requirement, during a proportionality trial, for the trial judge to independently reach a view on what is the least intrusive measure regardless of the suggestions made by the parties. Perhaps this part of the Court of Appeal’s decision will be revisited in future cases. That’s the interesting bit for lawyers.
What are the lessons for campaigners?
The Occupy Movement has been highly effective as a way of raising issues in the national consciousness. It seems that the concerns of the Occupy Movement have resonated with the majority of people in Britain and around the world but what I want to focus on now is not the message but the form of the message; not the complaints but the way of bringing forward those complaints. By assembling in a nationally important place and by expressing views on a particular topic campaigners aim to generate publicity for their given message. A march through London or a rally in Trafalgar Square generates a certain amount of publicity. The occupation of an important space appears to have generated far more publicity. It has certainly generated more publicity than if each of the Occupy London campers had raised their issues of concern at the surgery of their individual constituency MP. The occupation generated global media interest which then gave the campers lots of opportunities to promote their message; they would not have had as many opportunities without the occupation.
I discussed the lessons for campaigners on the Radio 4 PM programme yesterday with the City of London MP Mark Field – click above for the 7 day link.