Bob was expressly told by an employee Emily of a business to never return to that location. A month later, he returns and Emily advises her colleague Colleen the Bob has been banned. A year later Bob again returns and Emily no longer works there and Colleen was not working that day. Instead there is a doorwoman Doris who greets Bob, searches his bag, and happily grants him entry.

Has Bob by entering the business committed trespass?

Alternative variation (but not in my mind sufficiently distinct to justify a separate question): suppose one is banned in principle from all locations of a massive national chain retailer. But this isn’t effectively propagated to all of the door staff and one then goes to some different location where one is admitted by the doorman or bouncer. Has one committed trespass in this case?

Of relevance would seem to be the case of Woolgar v Central Estates Belgravia Ltd though unsure as to its scope of applicability to a context like trespass. But it concerns knowledge among principals and agents and failures of organisations to internally propagate information and coordinate themselves accordingly. Specifically this case held that the knowledge of the agent is the agent of the principal and failure to properly internally coordinate between one agent of a company and another was no excuse for the company not to be bound by its seemingly schizophrenic objective conduct or gestures.

Summary of Woolgar v Central Estates: Landlord informed tenant that he did not wish tenant to renew contract, told staff same and to neither demand nor accept rent. Staff demanded and then accepted rent. Held: authorized agent demanded rent and accepted same, property was properly rented.

Reference: https://swarb.co.uk/central-estates-belgravia-ltd-v-woolgar-no-2-ca-20-jun-1972/

  • 2
    Can you summarise and link to the case you cite? Commented Oct 6, 2023 at 19:24
  • 4
    @Seekinganswers edit the link into the question please.
    – Dale M
    Commented Oct 7, 2023 at 1:09
  • I wouldn’t expect any of the stores had to be informed, let alone all. Rent and trespassing are two entirely different activities. It’s not less trespassing if the owner never finds out about it, just as theft isn’t less theft if they never find out how much was stolen. Rent is like a sale, it’s not less rented if you really wanted more money, it’s what you or your agent (in the case cited) agreed to.
    – jmoreno
    Commented Oct 7, 2023 at 16:31
  • 2
    @Seekinganswers please actually summarise the case you are caring to rather than lazily linking to it, posts should be self contained without having to trawl through external links.
    – user438383
    Commented Oct 8, 2023 at 13:47
  • 1
    Does Doris know Bob from Adam?
    – Lag
    Commented Oct 8, 2023 at 20:08

1 Answer 1


First, as an aside to establish some guidelines, you can’t involuntarily trespass (Smith v. Stone (1647), 82 E.R. 533 (K.B.)).

All other trespasses are to an extent intentional, and subject to whatever consequences are available under the given circumstances.

Mistakes, such as thinking that the doorman has the right to waive or rescind the trespass is still a trespass (Basely v Clarkson).

Basically you know or should know where you aren’t welcome, and it’s nobody else responsibility to keep anybody else up to date on your status. If you trespass, you trespass.

In Central Estates (Belgravia) Ltd v Woolgar the landlord didn’t wish to renew the lease, but his agent renewed it anyway — it’s not the renter’s responsibility to verify what the landlord wishes when presented with a demand for payment from an agent. It’s sufficient to pay the price asked. The landlords wishes are not a matter of law.

  • What is meant by the statement that one can’t “involuntarily trespass”? Commented Oct 10, 2023 at 14:39
  • Ok. So, I still have to read the case of Basely, but… why is it a visitor it would-be patron’s responsibility to verify what the business’s proprietor’s wishes are or aren’t? Commented Oct 10, 2023 at 14:41
  • @Seekinganswers: a trespasser isn’t a visitor or a guest, a trespasser is an invader. They have been informed they are unwelcome, and that persists until either a specified date or until rescinded. As for involuntary trespass not being a thing, it means you cannot be kidnapped and dragged onto the property or swept downstream by a flood and it be trespassing. You have to do it somewhat intentionally. There is case law on that as well.
    – jmoreno
    Commented Oct 11, 2023 at 0:56

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