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March 29 2011



What is crucial and devastating here is that for English law the university’s buildings are private property. The  Supreme Court judgment in Meier set out the law that applies: The occupied campus is owned by the management-claimants. The student-defendants are mere interlopers, who have come on to it unasked and may now be physically removed. There is no analogy to be drawn with Mayor of London v. Hall, which concerned resolutely ‘public’ space. As such, in the possession cases, free speech and free assembly are secondary activities of the privately-owned university and not its primary properties. Their pursuit can only rarely defeat the demands of rightful ownership and orderly land use (see this report of the first UCL injunction and School of Oriental and African Studies v. Persons Unknown). And so, a student occupation is not a legitimate political claim but a land tort. The management’s claim, to staunch the loss of revenue from a saleable space, or to the preservation of health and safety (see e.g. the Cambridge Vice-Chancellor’s statement on last winter’s occupation of the Combination Room) must always take precedence.


Máiréad Enright: Use of Private Law to Control Student Occupations | Critical Legal Thinking 2011-03-28
Reposted bykrekk krekk

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