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Jo C.
Jo C., Barrister
Category: Law
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Experience:  Over 5 years in practice
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A local councillor entered my mother in laws (MIL) garden unannounced/uninvited

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A local councillor entered my mother in laws (MIL) garden unannounced/uninvited and her dog jumped up at him (he states he bit but MIL thinks it was a scratch). He reported this to the police and the police have recommended MIL wrote a letter of apology (they responded within 2 days) - which she has done.
I am concerned in relation to this: does this mean anyone can come onto private property unannounced and if a dog reacts it is automatically the owner/dogs fault?
Do we no longer have the right to state who enters are properties?
Or is it likely the response was due to his position?

MIL does have notices re dogs on her gate.

Thank you for your question. My name is XXXXX XXXXX I will try to help with this.

Just to clarify, this person was on private property?
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

Yes he walked through the garden gate towards the property. There are warning notices of 'Beware of dog, enter at own risk' on the gate he walked through. The property is in a very rural location and MIL who is 70 was alone.


Until such time as she has asked him to leave he is a lawful visitor.

She is responsible for the actions of the dogs and simply putting a sign on the gate to say beware of the dog does not absolve her fall liability for any actions of the dog.

Although his response may be as a result of his position, his position actually makes no difference and any member of the public or the postman could do the same thing.

It appears that there is no allegation that the dog is vicious but was simply boisterous and it seems highly likely that the dogs clause may have scratched him although it may have covered the main dirt or damaged his clothes although there is no allegation of that from what you say.

If your mother-in-law does not want people coming into the property then she will need to lock the gate.
If she does not want to lock the gate to deter visitors, then she will need to keep the dog under control.

Unfortunately, the dog reacts automatically, yes, it is the owners responsibility.

I am sorry if this is bad news.

Can I clarify anything for you?

Customer: replied 3 years ago.

many thanks, XXXXX XXXXX just clarify:


He entered the garden uninvited, why therefore would he be a lawful visitor until MIL asked him to leave?

Anyone who walks up the path of your house is not a trespasser until such time as they have been asked to leave.

It would be a legal nonsense for everyone to become a trespasser who walked down the path of the house.

There isn't criminal liability if the dog reacts though until the 13 May when the law will change.

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