Public Order: Processions; Notice Requirements

Date01 February 2008
Publication Date01 February 2008
AuthorAlan Davenport
DOI10.1350/jcla.2008.72.1.470
SubjectCourt of Appeal (Civil Division)
JCL 72(1) dockie..Court of Appeal - Civil Div .. Page23 Court of Appeal (Civil Division)
Public Order: Processions; Notice Requirements
Commissioner of Police for the Metropolis v Kay [2007] EWCA Civ 477
‘Critical Mass’ is a cycle ride which has taken place in London on the last
Friday of every month since April 1994. The ride always starts from the
same fixed point, on the South Bank, but its route is different every time
and is determined by whoever is at the front on the particular date. The
number of participants varies, but is usually over 100 and has been more
than 400. The ride is peaceful and at the time of the case the police had
only ever received two letters of complaint about it. The standard
method of policing the event is for police cyclists to ride alongside the
participants in Critical Mass. The case arose after the police issued a letter
to participants dated 29 September 2005 which informed them that
Critical Mass was an unlawful public procession within the meaning of
s. 11 of the Public Order Act 1986 as its organiser(s) had not provided
the requisite notice of the procession (s. 11(1)). This led to what the
Divisional Court ([2006] EWHC 1536 (Admin)) termed a ‘friendly
action’ (at [1]) to determine whether or not the cycle ride fell within
s. 11 and was thus subject to a requirement of notice under that section.
The Divisional Court ([2006] EWHC 1536 (Admin)) decided that Crit-
ical Mass was a procession within the meaning of s. 11 of the Public
Order Act 1986 but that it fell within s. 11(2) which exempts processions
which are ‘commonly or customarily held’ from the notice requirement.
The Metropolitan Police Commissioner appealed against this decision,
by leave of Carnwath J who asserted that the issues raised were of
general importance.
HELD, ALLOWING THE APPEAL, Critical Mass was not a procession
‘commonly or customarily held’ within the meaning of s. 11(2) of the
Public Order Act 1986 and was therefore subject to the notice require-
ments in that section. The lack of a...

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