Lawyers from Clarke Willmott LLP in Birmingham have warned players of the new smartphone game Pokemon Go to be careful when hunting the digital monsters, in case they find themselves facing court proceedings for trespass. Since the game was released in the UK on Thursday morning, swarms of smartphone-equipped hunters, young and old, have hit the streets attempting to catch virtual ‘Pokemon’ creatures at specified locations around the city.
However, many users may be unaware of the potential legal consequences to their virtual exploits. With the game utilising whole maps of local areas, some Birmingham residents have found large groups of Pokemon hunters entering gardens and private land. While the occasional misguided trespass is unlikely to result in court proceedings, repeat offenders may find themselves catching an injunction, alongside a Pokemon.
Neil Ham, partner in property litigation at Clarke Willmott, said: “If there is a real and apparent risk that the regular mass gathering of Pokemon hunters could cause injury to property or people, there is a case law that suggests a landowner can obtain an injunction against ‘Persons Unknown’ prohibiting them from causing the threatened nuisance or trespass.
“It is unlikely that Nintendo, as the producer of ‘Pokemon Go’ would however be liable since it does not encourage trespassing and in that regard is in a similar position to the manufacturers of Satnavs, and to protect itself it also ensures that a prominent warning and disclaimer appears on screen at the start of the game.
“Landowners are well advised to ensure that accessways to their properties are secured as best they can be, to prevent unwanted intrusion.
“If someone discovers a Pokemon hunter on their property they should amicably ask them to leave immediately, and should they fail to do so, they should call the Police in the first instance.”
It’s not only gamers who should be on their guard, if you find that your property has unexpectedly become a Pokemon dojo, landowners would have a duty of care to trespassing Pokemon hunters on their land.
Nathan Greaves, a solicitor in the same team, added: “Landowners have a duty of care to trespassers on their land to prevent them from coming to any harm caused by its condition or activities on it. You should first of all ensure that means of access are properly secured, any hazards are clearly signposted, and obvious risks are mitigated in so far as is possible.
“Landowners should use this new Pokemon phenomenon as an opportunity to take stock of risks on their land and ensure they are adequately guarded against as a measure of good housekeeping.”
For more information on Clarke Willmott please visit www.clarkewillmott.com