Squatters occupying Friern Barnet Library claim their human rights will be breached if a judge grants permission for their eviction tomorrow.

Judge Patricia Pearl is set to decide the fate of the group, having heard from the activists and the council seeking to evict them during a lengthy hearing at Barnet County Court today.

Barnet Council is seeking a possession order to reclaim the closed library, which was taken over by squatters in September.

Members of the Occupy movement – responsible for setting up the much publicised ‘democracy village’ outside St Paul’s Cathedral that ended at the start of this year - gained access to the Friern Barnet Road building in September, five months after it shut down.

The activists have since helped community groups reopen the library with donations of more than 8,000 books.

The group and dozens of its supporters faced up to Barnet Council’s lawyers at the Ballards Lane court house today where they attempted to convince Judge Pearl of the legitimacy of their occupation.

Nicholas Grundy, acting for the council, compared the library takeover to the occupation outside St Paul’s, something denied by the defence who argued the squatters have caused no nuisance to surrounding buildings, businesses or the public.

Defence barrister Sarah Sackman argued the occupation had created “a popular volunteer library delivering a positive benefit to the local community”.

The argument of the activists, put forward by Ms Sackman, hinges on whether or not their eviction breaches their rights to freedom of expression and of peaceful assembly and association under articles ten and 11 of the Human Rights Act.

One further argument put forward by the defence is that the council’s initial willingness to negotiate with the squatters implies the granting of a licence for the group to stay.

Council officers held four meetings with library representatives, informing them of their intent to pursue legal action for removal at the second meeting.

Mr Grundy dismissed the defence’s claims of an implied licence as “impossible”, citing that numerous processes would have to be undertaken before one was formally granted.

The council also argued that any possession order granted by the court, effectively giving permission for the council to evict the squatters, would not be a breach of the protestors’ human rights.

Mr Grundy said: “We say there is no infringement because the purpose of this protest was to raise awareness of the prospect of the library being run as a community library and to save the building for the local community and, in effect your honour, we have heard that that aim has been achieved.

“These are not rights to determine how public buildings should be used contrary to an elected council, it is a right to hold a peaceful assembly and the court has heard that these and other protests were going on before the occupation began.”

Mr Grundy told the court the authority cannot allow the library to continue because of fears it would open itself to impartiality accusations when judging other community bids for the building at a later date.

He also pointed out that the occupation breaches planning regulations as some activists are sleeping in the library and it is unsure of the safety and state of the building.

However, the council’s legal team and witnesses conceded that no attempts had been made by the squatters to block inspections of the building.

Proceedings were delayed during legal debate over whether the judge would accept an amendment to the defence presented to the court at a hearing in October.

During that eviction hearing, defence solicitors declared they were representing “persons unknown” but following requests from the court, a notice of action was served on the council last week in which four defendants were named.

These included Occupy members Pete Phoenix, Daniel Gardner, Petra Albert and Barnet resident and library campaigner Keith Martin.

As the official representatives of the library occupiers, the group instructed solicitors to amend the defence previously submitted to include claims under the Human Rights Act.

The deliberations of the court meant witnesses were not called until nearly 12.30pm, when council property valuer Suzanna Lewis and assistant director of customer services Bill Murphy.

The pair gave evidence on early discussions between the council and the squatters and planning regulation breaches.

During the break, protestors continued to hold placards outside the building, while inside the judge praised the dozens of spectators for their behaviour during what was often an unusually light-hearted hearing.

The court later heard from three witnesses for the defence, including Pete Phoenix who has acted as a main representative of the group throughout the occupation.

Following the hearing today, Mr Phoenix declared the group would be prepared to appeal any unfavourable decision by the court tomorrow and that his group would be willing to enter into lengthy legal proceedings to take their case further.