What’s the law regarding trespassing on private land?

PUBLISHED: 09:11 25 March 2021

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Paul Maguire

I recently found two people with dogs walking (trespassing) in my field; they were abusive when asked to leave. What are my rights?

Q: Can you explain the law relating to trespass? I recently encountered two people with dogs walking on a field I own, and, when accosted, they claimed they were simply out for exercise. The dogs, both running loose, were whippet types. Both walkers were abusive, but they eventually left my land. What were my rights?

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TONY JACKSON replies: The simple answer is that anyone who enters land without the permission of the landowner is trespassing, whether simply walking, or shooting with or without a dog. As such, the person can be sued for damages. A trespasser can be asked to leave the land and escorted to the boundary using no more force than is necessary. Persistent offenders can have an injunction or interdict taken out against them, as can walkers who use a right of way to try and disrupt a legitimate shoot taking place. In England and Wales, armed trespass is a criminal offence. However, in Scotland, there is a let-out clause if one were crossing land or water directly to or from land or water over which you had a right to shoot. For any other purpose, the offence of armed trespass would be committed.

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