Updated: Dec 14, 2020
Over the years our High Court Enforcement Officers and Agents have carried out evictions for local authorities and private clients across the jurisdiction of England and Wales. And the one thing that every client has to “eat” is the cost of the exercise. It is very unusual for a costs order to be made against “persons unknown”, although we have seen it done, and we have seen the protestors cough up.
In relation to local authorities, we think more should be done to make the cost of eviction fall on the people who are trespassing. We say this as someone is picking up the tab – and for local authorities, it is the council taxpayers. Eviction costs are absorbed into the overheads of local authorities, which in turn are included in annual budgets which are then funded in part by council tax contributions.
An article in today’s Telegraph suggests that Extinction Rebellions protests in Central London this week have cost £28,000,000 (see http://bit.ly/30PrdcJ ) and we don’t find this surprising. In fact, our CEO, Claire Sandbrook, was on her way to a meeting in Fleet Street this week and spoke to one of the police officers outside the High Court. She thanked the police for keeping an eye on the protest and the woman police officer said, “They’re alright, they are our friends”. We’re not sure if that’s quite the right tone – but from a PR point of view, the Met Police always set a great example. You can see from Claire’s photo of Fleet Street how the entire street was blocked off!
Eviction and Operational Plan
When it comes to evicting protestors the buzz word has to be one of “safety”. This requirement means anticipating the risks in an eviction project and having the right resources to respond. This month Shergroup was asked to step in and review an eviction operation for a local authority in London who had seen the consequences of not having an Operational Plan.
Claire Sandbrook, as the authorized HCEO, took on the job of crafting a new detailed plan. The plan required police support due to the political nature of the protest on the site. The police were very stretched, and the proposed date was going to be a problem. So, having talked through the eviction operation with a room full of council officers, a Plan B was worked out which Shergroup fully supported and which led to a virtual no-cost solution for the Council. Yes, there was still a Writ of Possession to enforce but the operation was virtually invisible. For security reasons we can’t tell you where and what that was – but the takeaway from this blog post is really that the team from Shergroup understood what the client needed to achieve and worked with the client to achieve the right outcome.
This is nothing new to us. Working as High Court Enforcement experts, means you look to do the right thing for the situation. Our approach and involvement to review the initial plan and then the subsequent change saved the council taxpayers a few thousand pounds of hard-earned council tax.