Third Party RightsAn Englishman's home is his castle, or so it is said.
In practice the law recognises a number of rights for people other than the owner to exercise rights over land which does not belong to them.
Rights of Way
Public footpaths, bridleways and byways have all been dedicated to public use either by legislation or long use by the public. The status of a particular way is recorded on the Definitive Map maintained by the Highway Authority for the area.
All landowners should take the steps available to prevent a right of way becoming inadvertently dedicated.
Many rights of way established for many years no longer serve the rural population nor leisure walkers and the Country Landowners Association are seeking a major overhaul of the network.
Other changes will come as the Government extends the coastal footpath around the country
Many farms are subject to private rights of way enjoyed by neighbouring properties either as a result of agreement or long use. Whilst many cause little or no problem, others can be a constant source of friction caused by disputes over route, width or type of traffic. Development proposals or privacy issues can mean that there is a great deal at stake. Care should always be taken to establish the existence and extent of such rights when a property changes hands.
It is not uncommon for a rural property to be the subject of a right to take a supply of water or an electricity cable from or over a neighbouring property. These rights are known as ‘easements’ and can make a significant difference to the value of a property. The law restricting the extent and exercise of such rights can be complex as well as expensive to litigate.
Whether it is a shoot organised among neighbours or a more corporate structure with paying guns and employed keepers, game shooting is an important activity for many in the country. There can be many legal issues involved, from the obligation to charge VAT to the security of tenure enjoyed by tenants carrying on a business, so it makes sense to put in place proper legal documentation.
One of the hazards faced by land managers is to restrict access to their land only to those with a right to be there. The cost of recovering possession from trespassers can be substantial, both in legal costs and cleaning up. Knowing which practical steps can be taken, the powers the Police have and how to get proceedings issued and served are vital pieces of knowledge for the rural landowner, for whom speed can be critical.
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