On May Day 2001 Lois Austin, alongside some 3000 other protesters and bystanders, was kettled in Oxford Circus for almost seven hours. Ms Austin has been fighting a legal battle ever since to obtain a finding that her containment was unlawful. This Thursday, 15 March 2012, will finally see the Grand Chamber of the European Court of Human Rights deliver judgment.

Kat Craig of Christian Khan Solicitors, Lois Austins solicitor, said: “Since May Day 2001 kettling has become standard practice in almost all large scale protests. If Ms Austin is successful, the tactic will become unlawful and should trigger a wholesale review of public order policing. It is hoped that this case will see the end of coercive policing and pave the way for a new approach to protests where freedom of speech is facilitated, not stifled.”

Kettling has given rise to a multitude of legal challenges since Ms Austin’s claim was brought, with a number of both civil and criminal cases being dealt with by specialist solicitors at Christian Khan, but Ms Austin’s case is widely accepted to be the test case on the issue on which many subsequent legal actions hinge.

Lois Austin said: “This has been a long, hard struggle for freedom of speech. The increased use of kettling has had disastrous consequences for the right to peaceful protest and the safety of protesters. I am deeply concerned that this tactic will discourage the next generation of peaceful protesters to express their legitimate concerns.”