Hubbard v Pitt: CA 1976

Protesters handed out leaflets and carried posters outside the plaintiff’s estate agency. He claimed in trespass over the public footpath outside his premises. The defendants appealed the grant of an interlocutory injunction to prevent their demonstrations.
Held: The injunction was upheld. The question of rights to use the highway was irrelevant; the court was concerned only with the private law rights of the plaintiff in relation to an alleged private nuisance.
Denning MR, dissenting, said ‘The public have a right of passage over a highway: but the soil may belong to someone else. The owner of the soil may sue if a person abuses the right of passage so as to use it for some other and unreasonable purpose. Such as where a racing tout walked up and down to note the trials of the race horses: see Hickman v Maisey [1900] 1 Q.B.752. But those cases do not give Prebble and Co. A cause of action here: because Prebble and Co. do not own the pavement. It is a highway. The surface is vested in the local authority and they have not complained. Nor could they, since no wrong has been done to them or their interest.’
The courts ‘should not interfere by interlocutory injunction with the right to demonstrate and to protest any more than they interfere with the right of free speech; provided that everything is done peaceably and in good order.’ and ‘the right to demonstrate and the right to protest on matters of public concern . . are rights which it is in the public interest that individuals should possess’ and that ‘history is full of warnings against suppression of these rights’.
Lord Denning MR, Stamp and Orr L.JJ
[1976] 1 QB 142
England and Wales
CitedBonnard v Perryman CA 2-Jan-1891
Although the courts possessed a jurisdiction, ‘in all but exceptional cases’, they should not issue an interlocutory injunction to restrain the publication of a libel which the defence sought to justify except where it was clear that that defence . .
CitedBeatty v Gillbanks QBD 13-Jun-1882
The appellants assembled with others for a lawful purpose, and with no intention of carrying it out unlawfully, but with the knowledge that their assembly would be opposed, and with good reason to suppose that a breach of the peace would be . .

Cited by:
CitedDirector of Public Prosecutions v Jones and Lloyd HL 4-Mar-1999
21 people protested peacefully on the verge of the A344, next to the perimeter fence at Stonehenge. Some carried banners saying ‘Never Again,’ ‘Stonehenge Campaign 10 years of Criminal Injustice’ and ‘Free Stonehenge.’ The officer in charge . .
CitedJones and Lloyd v Director of Public Prosecutions Admn 23-Jan-1997
The appellants had been peacefully protesting at Stonehenge. They were among others who refused to leave when ordered to do so under an order made by the police officer in charge declaring it to be a trespassory assembly under the 1986 Act. They . .
CitedRoberts and Others v Regina CACD 6-Dec-2018
Sentencing of Political Protesters
The defendants appealed against sentences for causing a public nuisance. They had been protesting against fracking by climbing aboard a lorry and blocking a main road for several days.
Held: The appeals from immediate custodial sentences were . .

These lists may be incomplete.
Updated: 04 February 2021; Ref: scu.192198