Laws in Northern Ireland
“This is private property”
Private property is any land that is owned by someone. On specific land, it is up to the particular landowner on how to treat things. If there is a sign that says ‘No Freerunning’, then it is implied that parkour wouldn’t be allowed.
Trespass is a ‘civil matter between the landowner and the individual trespassing on the land. If a security guard or landowner asks you to leave, you are not doing anything wrong legally unless you refuse to leave.
A larger organisation, such as a local authority, might ask for an event notice for something to be done in a particular place. For example, this (link) is Hammersmith and Fulham’s webpage.
By-Laws are made by the local authority (Council) specific to that area. Background information here. Most commonly these might apply to parks and public spaces which are controlled by the Council. For example, here are Hammersmith and Fulham’s by-laws (link) for parks and open spaces. In parks, they often prohibit climbing trees, walls or any other structure.
“We are liable if you hurt yourself”
A landowner is often concerned that ‘if you get hurt you can sue us’. However, this is usually a misunderstanding. If someone is doing parkour and hurts themselves, that is nothing to do with the landowner.
In every situation, the law is clear that there is no liability for any risks willingly accepted by the visitor [Occupiers’ Liability Act 1984 and Occupiers' Liability (Northern Ireland) Order 1987].
Landowners are generally worried about being liable if someone gets hurt on their land while practising parkour, but in usual circumstances, they have voluntarily accepted this risk.
If there is a known danger, such as incomplete scaffolding, and the occupier is aware that parkour practitioners use the land and such structures, then a warning sign would usually be sufficient.
Liability can still arise in the same way it would for any person on the land, such as from danger due to the state of the premises or from something inherently dangerous. This might include a slippery floor or holes in the ground, or a wall that collapses, which would hurt anyone regardless of the fact they were training parkour.
Unless someone is invited to do parkour, there is not really any legal risk on the part of the landowner. If the landowner is involved in the organisation, to get permission or an events permit, then the usual risk assessment process will typically fulfil their legal duty of care.
“We have you on CCTV”
If this reason is being given to you, the landowner is assuming that you are doing something unlawful. You should let them know that you are not doing anything unlawful and that you are happy to captured on CCTV.
CCTV is merely capturing evidence of what you are doing and is definitely not a reason for you to move on. If you are training with respect, then the CCTV will only show that you are not breaking the law. It is likely that they will then give you one of the reasons that we have set out above, i.e. private property and/or occupiers’ liability.
“We will call the Police”
Police only have powers to do anything when the law empowers them, and a person is only doing something wrong when the law specifically says that they are.
Even if you are trespassing, you are not breaking the law. Trespass is not a criminal matter. It is a ‘civil matter’ between the landowner and the individual. If police turn up, in strictly legal terms, a civil matter is not within their jurisdiction unless you are committing a crime. If a security guard (or another employee) turns up to ask you to leave, they are within their rights to do so - you are not doing anything wrong legally unless you refuse to leave.
By-Laws can be enforced by police officers and council-employed staff such as park rangers, civil enforcement officers, security guards, etc.
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