forcible entry

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A common-law offence (as amended by various statutes) that applied under certain circumstances when force was used to gain entry to premises. The common-law offence has been replaced by a statutory offence of using or threatening violence against people or property in order to secure entry into premises (Criminal Law Act 1977). The offence only applies if there is someone present on the premises who is opposed to the entry and the offender knows of this. The fact that the offender is the legal owner or occupier of the premises is not in itself a defence. However, there is a special defence if the offender can prove that he was at the relevant time a displaced residential occupier or protected intending occupier who requires the property for his residence and has a qualifying freehold or leasehold interest, tenancy, or licence and was seeking to gain entry or to pass through premises that form an access to his own place of residential occupation. These provisions do not apply to landlords seeking to regain possession and it is a summary offence to make false statements when claiming to be a protected occupier. It is not an offence, however, for a person unlawfully evicted from his own home to use force to re-enter, subject to the common-law rule that the force must not be excessive. The police may use force to enter with lawful authority. See also adverse occupation.

Subjects: Law.

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