Injunction to prevent nuisance can apply to defendants identified by description rather than name

An injunction can be granted against a person or group identified by description rather than by name provided that the description is sufficiently precise. An injunction is normally available to prevent nuisance (here unlawful interference with a right of way) and trespass. An injunction will only be denied in special circumstances.

In Billion Star Development Ltd v Wong Tak Chuen ([2012] 2 HKLRD 85) P owned property within the Mei Foo estate. P had the benefit of a right of way over the estate roads for the purpose of access to and egress from the property. P intended to build a block of flats on the property. Some residents of Mei Foo objected. They organised a protest group. Some of the protest group would block the estate road leading to the property whenever vehicles associated with the construction project attempted to gain access to the property. Some protesters also trespassed on the property.

The court had no doubt that P had the benefit of a right of way that entitled construction vehicles to use the estate roads to get to the property nor that the acts engaged in amounted to nuisance and trespass. P was entitled to an injunction unless there were special circumstances indicating that only damages should be available. The facts that no damage has been caused or that the acts complained of are relatively trivial are not special circumstances for this purpose ([38]).

Amongst the defendants was D7 (unidentified individuals trespassing on the property or interfering with the plaintiff’s right of way over the private roads in Mei Foo). The court held that it was possible to identify defendants in this way:

‘The Court has power to grant an injunction against a defendant described not by name but by reference to his conduct provided that the description is sufficiently certain to identify only those who are necessarily included and exclude those who are not.’ ([54]).

Some defendants argued that they were exercising their human rights of peaceful assembly and freedom of expression. This was rejected since the acts took place on private property and were essentially concerned with competing claims to property rights ([61]). Some defendants argued that their actions had not taken place at a time when construction work was being attempted and, since they had not infringed the relevant property rights, it was inappropriate to restrain them by injunction. This was rejected since their words and conduct made it clear that there was a real risk that they would attempt to interfere with the right of way ([69]).

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