Legal Briefing

Download a copy of the briefing booklet

As a mutually supporting network we are all responsible for ourselves, and while we support each other as best we can, your actions are your own. It's important to prepare yourself for all eventualities before attending an action (it isn't possible to predict whether you will be arrested or not). Remember, this document is an overview intended to bring things to your attention, and is to be seen as a gateway to further reading. Links are listed at the bottom of each section. 

Legal Strategy

The legal strategy documents aim to provide you with an overview of how we can turn the criminal justice process (from arrest to prosecution) into an opportunity to advance our strategic objectives - in particular by raising public and political awareness of the climate emergency.  While we also refer to some of the risks of action, this document is not a substitute for legal advice. Even if you choose to represent yourself at the trial, if you're arrested, it's usually a good idea to take independent legal advice. 

Below are links to a series of documents we are developing that can help you to support our strategic objectives through the legal process if that's what you decide you want to do - both when self-representing and when working with an experienced sympathetic solicitor.


 LS2: CLIMATE EMERGENCY PUBLIC INFORMATION. Try to read this document before taking action. You can then refer back to it to help explain why you did what you did.

LS4: EXAMPLE SKELETON ARGUMENT. Courts may ask you to submit a skeleton argument which explains the legal basis of your defence. Even if they don’t it can be useful to set out your arguments in writing. This document provides you with an example of how you can argue that established legal principles justify non-violent direct action in response to the climate emergency.

LS5: EXAMPLE WITNESS STATEMENT /CLIMATE CHANGE ANNEXE: It is not really necessary to call an expert witness about the climate emergency. There is so much documentary evidence about it from government and other sources that if you would like to get relevant evidence before the court, you can do so by preparing a witness statement or an annexe of documentary evidence. This example witness statement provides you with references to materials you could include and an idea of how you might organise them. 

LS6: EXAMPLE EXHIBIT: Your exhibit should include screenshots of the documents and articles you refer to in your skeleton argument and witness statement. This will help to authenticate your evidence and to bring it to life for the court. If possible, print out colour copies.

LS7: KEY LEGAL REFERENCES TO SUPPORT A DEFENCE: this document sets out excerpts from previous legal cases and rights protected by the European Convention on Human RIghts, which may help you to advance a defence.

LS8: YOUNG PEOPLE, SCHOOL AND NON-VIOLENT DIRECT ACTION: LEGAL CONTEXT: this document focuses on the the legal context specific to action taken by those under 18 years old.

Personal preparation for an action day

We hope that taking action will be a very empowering experience. If you are part of an XR group then there will be group preparation. This document is aimed at each XR Rebel. Part of being empowered is making informed decisions and so below we talk about some stuff that may be new to you, or if you’re experienced it may be good to get a refresher.

If there is only one link you click through on make it this one, GBC’s ‘Key Advice when Going on a Protest’:

Click to see the 5 Key Messages:

Brief definitions:

Click here to view some basic and brief definitions of some legal terms:

Frequently Used Laws at Protests / Common Charges:

Click here to read more about the most frequently used laws at protests:

Being Arrested

Click here to find out what happens when you get arrested:

Cautions and Community Resolution Orders

Click here to read more about Cautions and Community Resolution Orders:

Having a record

Is it okay if you get a record that shows up in these places? 

  • In DBS checks (normally employment related)

  • When applying to stay in this country  

  • When applying to travel in some countries abroad

  • Insurance applications and renewals

The record won’t necessarily cause a problem, but reading more about records is highly recommended.


Click here if you want to find out about how arrests can affect employment:

DBS checks and being arrested on protests

Click here if you want to find out about how arrests can affect DBS Checks:

Insecure Immigration Status/Applications to stay in the UK/Citizenship

Click here if you want to find out about how arrests can affect DBS Checks:

Getting Arrested and Travelling Abroad

Even just being arrested can have an impact for travel to some countries. 

You can read more at the document downloadable from this link:


Click here to see how arrests can affect insurance:

Mental Health

Click here to learn more about having mental health issues in custody:

Being under 18, having learning difficulties or mental health issues (even if you do not have a formal diagnosis)

Click here to read more about this:

Multiple arrests - Is it different if I’ve already been arrested, charged or convicted?

Click here to read more about multiple arrests:

Financial Implications

Click here to see different financial implications of arrest:

Should you speak to the media?

Click here to read more about speaking to the media:

Some More Useful Links:

An activists’ personal research:

Further reading: