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Napthens advises on fight to remove activists from landmark building

Preston-based law firm Napthens was called in by the owner of a historic building in Liverpool when activists occupied it in a protest recently which made national headlines.

The anti-austerity group, known as the ‘Love Activists,’ occupied the former Bank of England building, a Grade 1 listed property in the city centre, for 25 days,

The activists entered the building in the early hours of April 18, after breaking into the empty property. At one point it is thought more than 40 people were occupying the former bank.

David Bailey, Commercial Property Litigation partner at Napthens, was instructed by the owners of the property, District & Urban Liverpool Ltd, on April 20. The activists are thought to have targeted the building in the mistaken belief it was owned by Spanish banking group Santander.

Possession proceedings were issued against the protestors at Liverpool County Court on April 22 in a bid to have them evicted.

David applied for an Interim Possession Order (IPO) against the trespassers which, if granted, would make it a criminal offence for the protestors to remain inside the property. A Judge granted the IPO on April 28 following a hearing.

Merseyside Police then moved in on May 12 and removed the remaining protestors, arresting five people for breach of the IPO.

David said: “This high profile case shows how such occupation of a building can cause disruption and expense not just for the owners of the building, who in this case are faced with a significant clean-up bill, but also by putting severe strain on police resources.

“Unlike residential properties, squatting in commercial buildings is not a criminal offence, hence why such buildings have increasingly been targeted.

“The eviction process can be a long and time consuming one, but by working with the police and our clients, using the interim possession order which then turns the continued occupation into a criminal offence, we were able to quickly and efficiently make it possible for the police to move in and remove those people inside.

“Such an action is always the last resort, and significant time was spent by the police and other involved parties to resolve the situation amicably before the protestors were arrested and removed.

“Clearly in this case the building’s owners had the law on their side and we are pleased with the result.”