The question before the Supreme Court was whether the courts had power to grant “newcomer” injunctions: that is, injunctions against persons who are unknown and unidentified at the date of the grant of the injunction, and who have not yet performed, or even threatened to perform, the acts which the injunction prohibits. The answer to the question was that the courts do have the power, subject to sufficient safeguards where there is a compelling need to protect civil rights or to enforce public law that is not adequately met by any other available remedies. The Supreme Court unanimously dismissed the appeal, and upheld the judgment of the Court of Appeal, albeit for different reasons.
Critical to the Supreme Court’s reasoning was the identification of the jurisdictional basis for such injunctions: equity. The point being that equity has an important role in addressing defects and inadequacies in the common law. It followed that in considering whether to grant a newcomer injunction, it was to equitable principles to which the court should have regard. Although the case concerned gypsy and traveller injunctions, the principles could be read across into other types of injunction, including protestor injunctions.
On Friday 1 December, an FTB team, including Michael, will be discussing this judgment further in a lunchtime briefing.