Ho-ho-home invasion: is Father Christmas trespassing?

Each year Father Christmas works tirelessly, travelling around the globe delivering presents to children on his ‘nice’ list (a list that is surely now greatly reduced in size thanks to the GDPR data privacy laws).

18th December 2018

When he enters your home, is Father Christmas actually trespassing? If he does so without your expressed permission, could he be prosecuted? Whilst he is likely to be a welcome guest, it arguably raises a number of important issues when it comes to uninvited visitors over the festive season.

Louise Newbould-Walton, Associate Solicitor at DAS Law, is here to explain what you need to know about the laws regarding trespassing on private property…

What is trespassing?

The legal term for trespassing is unlawful entry of one person on to another person’s property. If expressed or written permission is not given by the land owner, then anyone who is caught on this land without permission is trespassing.

In the case of Father Christmas, however, a letter from a child asking for presents might be just be enough to constitute the written permission required for him to enter a home, providing he leaves quickly and quietly.

Can I remove a trespasser from my property?

If someone is considered to be trespassing, the first call of action is to ask them to leave. If the person refuses, then a land owner is allowed to use ‘reasonable force’ to remove them. However, what ‘reasonable force’ means depends on the situation; land owners are not, for example, permitted to use weapons to remove a trespasser – this would be deemed excessive force and would likely constitute assault.

With regards to Father Christmas then don’t worry; he won’t be sticking around as he’s got a lot to do.

What is the punishment for trespassing?

The punishment for trespassing is dependent upon the severity of the offence. Trespassing is generally considered a civil offence with police having no authority to arrest a trespasser but they may help you remove them.

If the trespasser is accused of aggravated trespassing, then the maximum punishment is three months imprisonment, whereas first-time offenders are likely to receive a fine between £200-£300. If the trespasser is accused of trespassing with the intent to commit theft, then the punishment can be up to seven years imprisonment.

Although Father Christmas will be laden with goods, don’t forget that he’s bringing gifts - not taking them away – so he’s likely to be in the clear here.  

Disclaimer: This information is for general guidance regarding rights and responsibilities and is not formal legal advice as no lawyer-client relationship has been created.

Your rights if it’s too cold in the workplace

As the winter weather arrives with a vengeance, chilly workplaces across the UK are potentially having serious impacts on the health and effectiveness of employees.

January 2019 Learn more
The dos and don’ts of the office Christmas party

Hannah Parsons, solicitor at DAS Law, has the following advice to ensure that your office party does not result in writs and recriminations.

December 2018 Learn more

Read more from the DAS Law blog

General advice 7 things you should know about driving fines

Millions of motorists across the UK are committing driving offences they did not know existed. Robert Hodson looks at the law around some of the most common offences.

May 2019
Property disputes Property boundaries – how disputes can tip neighbours over the edge

Normally, we don't need to know the exact boundaries of our property – having a general idea is enough, but if boundary disputes arise with a neighbour, getting the facts is vital.

May 2019
Property disputes Airbnb and holiday lettings: home from home or house of horrors?

Nicole Rogers, a solicitor at DAS Law, answers the most important questions for existing Airbnb hosts and those thinking of renting out their properties.

May 2019
Property disputes What tenants need to know about being evicted

There are a number of rules in place regarding evictions; here's what you need to know if you are being evicted or threatened with eviction.

May 2019
Property disputes Landlords – what you need to know about evictions

The legalities of evictions are a minefield; here's what to know if you want to evict a tenant.

April 2019
Family disputes , General advice , Property disputes Everybody needs good neighbours. But what can be done if someone refuses to be neighbourly?

April 2019
General advice Don’t let the law come calling when using your mobile phone while driving

Sam Phillips, a trainee solicitor at DAS Law, gives us the low-down on the law on mobile phones and driving.

April 2019
General advice , Holiday disputes Skipping school for a holiday could land parents in detention

The increased cost of holidaying during a busy season may tempt parents to take their children out of school a little early to keep costs down, but what does the law say about taking your child out of school during term time?

April 2019
General advice Your precious pooch could land you in the pound

What if your dog isn’t as well behaved as the show dogs? Can man’s best friend get you in trouble with the law? Sarah Garner, solicitor from DAS Law, tells you what you need to know.

March 2019
General advice Your legal rights if you have private photos leaked

With Jeff Bezos, the richest man in modern history, hitting the headlines recently for apparent leaked texts and compromising photos, it raises a number of important issues and brings into question – is anyone safe from this kind of attack?

February 2019
General advice If your engagement doesn't have a happy ending, who gets the ring?

If your fiancé(e) or unexpectedly breaks off the engagement, who gets to keep the engagement ring?

February 2019
General advice , Protecting your business 6 things you need to know about missing the 31 January self-assessment deadline

With 31 January deadline fast approaching, HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) has warned that 5,542,000 taxpayers have still to complete their Self-Assessment tax returns. What can you do if you miss the deadline?

January 2019
General advice , Property disputes Ho-ho-home invasion: is Father Christmas trespassing?

When he enters your home, is Father Christmas actually trespassing? If he does so without your expressed permission, could he be prosecuted?

December 2018