Bailiffs may have a battle to remove squatters occupying The Bohemia pub in North Finchley after they hinted at an unruly exit this afternoon.
The group was today given until midday on Friday (tomorrow) to vacate the premises on the order of a district judge.
The members of the Occupy movement, who took over the empty building in September, failed in their bid to oppose an eviction order at Barnet County Court.
Solicitors acting on behalf of administrators for the pub were granted a vacant possession notice, forcing the squatters to leave within 24 hours.
ut District Judge Parfitt declined to impose the £23,000 legal costs for the hearing on the occupiers, criticising the administrators and their representatives for being “unreasonable” in failing to negotiate with the squatters before starting court proceedings.
Speaking after the hearing, self-proclaimed community activist Pete Phoenix, representing the squatters, said the group was looking at its rights of appeal.
Asked whether the group intended to ‘go quietly’ when bailiffs arrive to remove them on Friday, he added: “We’re civil people but we believe in civil disobedience and direct action for a cause we believe in.»
Earlier in the day, the protesters attempted to persuade the judge the proceedings were unlawful based on two main points:
– That they had been given an implied licence to become tenants of the building due to frequent discussions and emails with representatives of property agent Colliers and the administrators Chantrey Velacott.
– That the administrators had no legal right to bring the eviction proceedings as they had been appointed to the pub’s sub-leaseholders Antic Ltd, and not the main leaseholders Mitchells and Butlers.
District Judge Parfitt declined to accept the arguments during a lengthy judgement after the two-hour court hearing.
There was disappointment among the restricted public gallery about the decision – several supporters were forced to wait outside such was the premium for seats – but that turned to relief among the group, which was at one stage potentially liable for the claimant’s £23,000 legal bill.
District Judge Parfitt however declined to impose this on to the four named defendants, who he said remained open to be reasonable and constructive in their discussions from the beginning.
Addressing the solicitors for Chantrey Velacott, he said: “It would seem common sense to me to first engage with the squatters to at least threaten the possibility of court action before taking it. You decided to expose them (the squatters) to a course that starts very costly proceedings.
“What your clients did was to give them no opportunity to avoid the legal proceedings.”
Such was the urgency on the part of the administrators to evict the occupiers, Mr Sheftel, for Chantrey Velacott, unsuccessfully applied to have High Court bailiffs instructed to carry out a speedier removal.
Speaking after the hearing, Mr Phoenix said he was disappointed that taxpayers’ money had been wasted on the hearing.
He said: “Why don’t people just talk to each other? I don’t feel the judge ruled correctly on our licence claim as well as a few other points.
“We were ecstatic that he didn’t award costs though – he really slapped them (Chantrey Velacott) on that.
“It has been a very positive occupation overall. We have had lots of community support and we will be back somewhere.”