Squatters will be evicted from Friern Barnet Library at the end of January if they fail to reach a licence agreement with Barnet Council.

Circuit Judge Patricia Pearl sitting at Barnet County Court this afternoon granted a possession order to the local authority for the removal of the group, which has occupied the building since September 5.

But Barnet Council has agreed not to enforce the order for six weeks while it discusses the possibility of issuing a licence to the squatters to officially run the building.

The authority says it will only enter into a formal contract with another legally recognisable group or individual and if one is not put forward, the eviction notice will be served.

Barnet Council leader Richard Cornelius said in a statement he was “delighted” by the decision to issue the possession order, while squatter Pete Phoenix said the possibility of further discussion was “a victory for the people of Barnet”.

Members of the Occupy movement first gained access to the former library in September and have since helped campaign groups to set up their own community library there in protest against the closure.

During a day-long hearing yesterday, solicitors acting on behalf of the squatters had argued that the eviction would breach their rights under articles ten and 11 of the Human Rights Act.

They also argued that the council’s initial willingness to negotiate with them after their occupation gave them an implied licence to be in the building.

Giving her judgement during the one-hour verdict today, Judge Pearl said the defendant’s licence argument “failed entirely”.

On the human rights defence however, the judge agreed that the eviction would infringe the protestors’ right to freedom of expression and the right to peaceful assembly and association, detailed in articles ten and 11 of the European act.

The finding left the council to then prove that their removal was lawful, justified and proportionate and the judge found in their favour on this point.

On December 7, the building was listed as a community asset by the local authority, meaning that it must be opened up to bids from community groups looking to take it over – a fact that ultimately won the case for the council.

Judge Pearl said the squatters’ occupation could put off other community groups from bidding for the building when it is tendered by the council and that it would leave the authority open to accusations of bias.

Self-proclaimed “experienced occupiers” Pete Phoenix, Daniel Gardner and Petra Albert, and 75-year-old Friern Barnet Library campaigner Keith Martin had all put their names forward as defendants in the case.

Barnet Council’s lawyers said in court they recognised that retired accountant Mr Martin was the only defendant from whom they could realistically seek costs after today’s verdict but declared they would not be pursuing them.

The announcement brought applause and thanks from the dozens of supporters who packed out the court room throughout the two days.

Judge Pearl praised their behaviour during the court hearing and that of the contribution of the squatters and campaigners during their occupation of the building.

She said: “The positive activities at the library have been by all accounts a welcome addition that has been well received by the community."

On the verdict though, she added: “It is my judgement that the unlawful occupation of the premises would cause prejudice to the bidding process and expose the local authority to claims of bias, as well as continuing the risk that the occupancy would affect other potential community groups from bidding.”