Mid-Bedfordshire District Council v Thomas Brown and others: CA 20 Dec 2004

The land owners, gypsies, had purchased agricultural land intending to occupy it as residential land in breach of green belt planning controls. The council had obtained an injunction, but appealed its suspension.
Held: The council’s appeal succeeded. The court had to balance several factors, but the land owners had acted in flagrant breach of court orders and planning controls. The difficulties and principals had been examined in the South Bucks case, and the question was whether the appellate court had power to intervene where, as here the judge at first instance had exercised his discretion to suspend the injunction pending the outcome of the planning application. The defendants were informed as to the steps they had to take to challenge the terms of the order, but had instead acted as if no order had been made. They had sought to steal a march on the council, and to undermine the court order. There was a real risk that the suspension of the order would appear to condone the breach, and would subvert the rule of law. In those circumstances it was proper to vary the injunction to give it immediate effect.
Mummery LJ said that suspension did allow for principle that court orders should be obeyed: ‘The proper course for the defendants to take, if they wished to challenge the order, was to apply to the court to discharge or modify the order. If that failed, the proper course was to seek to appeal. Instead of even attempting to follow the correct procedure, the defendants decided to press on as originally planned and as if no court order had ever been made. They cocked a snook at the court. They did so in order to steal a march on the council and to achieve the very state of affairs which the order was designed to prevent. No explanation or apology for the breaches of the court order was offered to the judge or to the court.’


Lord Phillips Of Worth Matravers, Mr Lord Justice Mummery And Lord Justice Jonathan Parker


[2004] EWCA Civ 1709, Times 03-Jan-2005, [2005] 1 WLR 1460




England and Wales


CitedSouth Buckinghamshire District Council and Another v Porter (No 2) HL 1-Jul-2004
Mrs Porter was a Romany gipsy who bought land in the Green Belt in 1985 and lived there with her husband in breach of planning control. The inspector gave her personal permission to continue use, and it had been appealed and cross appealed on the . .
CitedCoates and others v South Buckinghamshire District Council CA 22-Oct-2004
The local authority had required the applicants to remove their mobile homes from land. They complained that the judge had failed properly to explain how he had reached his decision as to the proportionality of the pressing social need, and the . .
CitedDavis and Others v Tonbridge and Malling Borough Council CA 26-Feb-2004
The claimants were travelling showmen who had purchased land, and after failing to apply for permission, moved onto the land and began to live there.
Held: The cultural identity of travelling show-people and their status, as a matter of . .

Cited by:

CitedBroxbourne Borough Council v Robb and Others QBD 27-Jun-2011
The Council applied for the committal of the defendant for an alleged breach of a without notice injunction. Notice of the injunction had been placed at the site, requiring nobody to move caravans onto the land.
Held: The application . .
Lists of cited by and citing cases may be incomplete.


Updated: 27 June 2022; Ref: scu.220493