Appleby and Others v The United Kingdom: ECHR 6 May 2003

The claimants sought to demonstrate against a development in their home town. The respondents who owned the shopping mall which dominated the town centre, refused to allow them to demonstrate in the mall or to distribute protesting leaflets. The claimants complained of interference with their rights to free speech and expression, saying a public authority had transferred the land to the private company. The Government argued that it was not for the Court to prescribe the necessary content of domestic law by imposing some ill-defined concept of ‘quasi-public’ land to which a test of reasonable access should be applied.
Held: There was no infringement of the Convention because the ban did not have ‘the effect of preventing any effective exercise of freedom of expression or [of destroying] the essence of the right’, not least because they could carry out their activities elsewhere. A balance had to be found between competing needs. Freedom of expression is a precondition of a functioning democracy. Shopping centres, though primarily for private commercial interests, increasingly serve as gathering places and events centres. Individuals are not merely invited to shop but encouraged to linger and participate in activities covering a broad spectrum from entertainment to community, educational and charitable events. Shopping centres assume the characteristics of the traditional town centre and in this case, the Galleries is labelled on maps as the town centre. The importance of freedom of expression, does not bestow any freedom of forum for the exercise of that right. No violation had occurred.
‘In the present case, the restriction on the applicants’ ability to communicate their views was limited to the entrance areas and passageways of the Galleries. It did not prevent them from obtaining individual permission from businesses within the Galleries (the manager of a hypermarket granted permission for a stand within his store on one occasion) or from distributing their leaflets on the public access paths into the area. It also remained open to them to campaign in the old town centre and to employ alternative means, such as calling door-to-door or seeking exposure in the local press, radio and television. The applicants did not deny that these other methods were available to them. Their argument, essentially, was that the easiest and most effective method of reaching people was to use the Galleries, as shown by the local authority’s own information campaign (see para 21 above). The Court does not consider however that the applicants can claim that they were as a result of the refusal of the private company, Postel, effectively prevented from communicating their views to their fellow citizens’


M Pellonpaa, P, Nicolas BRATZA, E. PALM, V. STRAZNICKA, R. MARUSTE, S. PAVLOVSCHI, L. GARLICKI, judges, M O’BOYLE, Section Registrar


44306/98, Times 13-May-2003, [2003] ECHR 222


Worldlii, Bailii


European Convention on Human Rights 10 11 13


Human Rights


CitedCIN Properties Ltd v Rawlins CA 1995
Young men were barred from a shopping centre. The private company owner considered that their behaviour was a nuisance.
Held: The owner had the right to determine any licence which the applicants might have had to enter the Centre. The local . .
CitedOzgur Gundem v Turkey ECHR 16-Mar-2000
Hudoc Judgment (Merits and just satisfaction) Violation of Art. 10; No violation of Art. 14; Struck out of the list in respect of the first applicant; Pecuniary damage – financial award; Non-pecuniary damage – . .
CitedRees v The United Kingdom ECHR 17-Oct-1986
The applicant had been born and registered as a female, but later came to receive treatment and to live as a male. He complained that the respondent had failed to amend his birth certificate.
Held: The court accepted that, by failing to confer . .

Cited by:

CitedLord Carlile of Berriew QC, and Others, Regina (on The Application of) v Secretary of State for The Home Department SC 12-Nov-2014
The claimant had supported the grant of a visa to a woman in order to speak to members of Parliament who was de facto leader of an Iranian organsation which had in the past supported terrorism and had been proscribed in the UK, but that proscription . .
Lists of cited by and citing cases may be incomplete.

Human Rights

Updated: 07 June 2022; Ref: scu.181914