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By J
16/03/2010

Birmingham v’s the boy racers

Birmingham City Council v Persons Unknown – 0BM70352 (noted by way of Arden Chambers Eflash) is a successful attempt by a local authority to distinguish the decision in Birmingham CC v Shafi [2008] EWCA Civ 1186; [2009] 1 WLR 1961; [2009] HLR 25 (our note here) and successfully obtain an injunction under s.222, Local Government Act 1972.

As readers no-doubt remember, Shafi had held that, where an authority sought to restrain anti-social behaviour by way of injunction under s.222, 1972 Act, the court should, save in exceptional circumstances, decline to grant such an injunction if it was satisfied that an ASBO would also be available. In essence, if an ASBO could be obtained, then it must be obtained.

The authority sought an injunction against a group of varying size and persons who were engaged in car-cruises in Birmingham. As a non-driver, I hardly feel able to describe such events but, as I understand it, people with modified cars drive around, sometimes racing each other, showing off their cars. The activities are noisy, sometimes dangerous and, if they obstruct the highway, potentially unlawful. It must be awful to live next to one. The authority sought to restrain such events.

HHJ Oliver-Jones QC (sitting as a deputy High Court Judge) granted an order on a quia timet basis. He held that the absence of identified or identifiable persons meant that an ASBO would not be available; that there was no objection to granting injunctions against the world, since the order clearly described the prohibited activities and, in any event, any person alleged to be in contempt would need to be personally served.

Birmingham do not appear to be the only authority to obtain such orders in the last year or so, Stoke and Warwickshire have, apparently, also succeeded. As someone who thinks Shafi was wrongly decided, I’m not at all disappointed to see it being distinguished in this manner.

Posted in: ASB
J is a barrister. He considers housing law to be the single greatest kind of law known to humankind and finds it very odd that so few people share this view.

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