Get in Touch Menu

Pokemon Go trespassers beware

25 July 2016

The new smartphone app, Pokemon Go has been praised by some for getting kids away from TV screens and playing outside again; and lambasted by others for driving the behaviour of over-zealous gamers, reported to have entered private property whilst hunting for the digital creatures.

For those too old to have experienced the ‘magic’ of Pokemon first-hand in the mid to late 90s, Pokemon started life as a video game for the original Nintendo Gameboy, expanding to include cartoons, card games and toys. The aim of the latest incarnation is to immerse oneself in the augmented reality world shown on your smartphone screen, which uses your phone’s GPS to place you on the map. As the app tracks your movements you can explore the world around you to seek out and collect the Pokemon creatures that are digitally added to the landscape.

Unfortunately, the craze has resulted in reports in the media of Pokemon Go players entering private property, whilst playing the game, much to the horror of the property owners. Although the game clearly warns players not to do this without permission, or to commit other acts of trespass, it is very often the case that people simply do not so much as glance at the terms and conditions of an app, much less realise that they are breaking the law. Given the disclaimer in the app’s terms and conditions, the finger of blame is unlikely to be pointing at the game producers.

It is unlikely that isolated incidents of trespass to private property would result in a civil action against the perpetrator. The sensible thing for a property owner to do if faced with a gamer on their property is to ask them to leave. If they fail to do so the local police should be first port of call.

However, and assuming the landowner does not take matters into their own hands, multiple and continued incidents could give the landowner grounds to obtain an injunction from the court, prohibiting the trespass.

Practically, this serves as a reminder that landowners owe a duty to take reasonable care that trespassers are not injured as a result of the state of their property. Landowners would be well-advised to ensure that their properties are properly secured and, if appropriate, displaying adequate signage to make clear that the property is private, and to warn of any potential dangers that are present on the land.

Willans’ Legal 500-recommended property litigation department deals with real property issues such as advising both commercial and residential clients on enforceability of covenants, title issues, boundary and right of way disputes, as well as commercial landlord and tenant disputes. The department acts closely with colleagues in the firm’s commercial property team. The lawyers handle an impressive client portfolio which includes individuals and regional and national businesses.

We're here to help
Paul Gordon LLB
View profile
Paul Gordon
Related services
Share this article
Resources to help

Related articles

Legal brain Q&A: A guide to intellectual property rights

Intellectual property disputes

They say that imitation is the highest form of flattery. But when it comes to intellectual property, a competitor copying your ideas can put your business’s whole operation and finances at…

Paul Gordon LLB

Disclosure rules shake-up with new pilot scheme

Litigation & dispute resolution

Disclosure is a stage in the litigation process in which the parties have to submit documents which are relevant to the issues in the dispute, even if they are detrimental…

Paul Gordon LLB

Brexit Q&A: How will the new immigration rules implemented after Brexit affect my business?

Business immigration

Businesses who are reliant on skills of EU citizens and who expect to be employing EU citizens arriving in the UK post-Brexit will need to consider the implications of the…

Helen Howes LLM
Trainee solicitor
Contact us