The following Employment practice note provides comprehensive and up to date legal information covering:

  • Picketing
  • Peaceful picketing
  • Criminal liability for picketing
  • Direct action, protests and demonstrations


Picketing is not a term with any exhaustive statutory or other definition. However, it is generally used to refer to various types of activity which:

  1. take place on the public highway outside a workplace, and

  2. are aimed at gaining publicity and support for a particular cause

Since 1 March 2017, it is defined, for the purposes of section 220A of the Trade Union and Labour Relations (Consolidation) Act 1992, as attendance at or near a place of work, in contemplation or furtherance of a trade dispute (for the meaning of this phrase, see Practice Note: The right to take industrial action—Statutory immunity from liability), for the purpose of:

  1. obtaining, or communicating, information, or

  2. persuading any person to work, or abstain from working

Pickets may seek to:

  1. persuade workers to join a strike

  2. prevent replacement workers from being taken on

  3. discourage suppliers or customers from dealing with the pickets’ employer

Picketing may in some circumstances give rise to liability under criminal and/or civil law on the part of:

  1. the pickets themselves, and/or

  2. the trade union that has organised the picketing

Certainly, if picketing is to any extent successful, it is likely to involve both the pickets and the organising union in some form of tort, eg inducing fellow workers to breach their contracts of employment, or inducing suppliers to breach their contracts with the pickets’ employer.

Peaceful picketing

There is a

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