Rights of Way - no laughing matter

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This article was published in Blackmore Vale Magazine on 25 July 2014.

Now, dear readers, rights of way are no joke. I am referring here to private rights of way (not public ones, such as bridlepaths or footpaths).

Private rights of way (RoW) are rights which one landowner enjoys over another person’s land. Although that sounds like a right benefiting humans, in fact from a legal point of view, it is a right enjoyed by land – a relationship of co-existence between two parcels of terra firma.

Okay, gripping - so what's my point? Well, in establishing a RoW much has to be considered, or to put it another way, there is plenty of scope for argument. In its most basic guise a RoW might be granted “at all times and for all purposes with or without vehicles”. Such a phrase fails to take account of:

  1. Animals (the user may want to drive cattle or sheep etc).
  2. Contributions towarsd maintenance (sharing the expense e.g. a set percentage or according to use).
  3. Responsibility for repair (who is actually going to do it?).
  4. Route/width of track (the latter is important for farmers with ever-growing kit).
  5. Limitations on type of vehicle or time of use.
  6. Limitation on user (eg to be used only by one house, for agricultural or equestrian purposes only etc).
  7. Right to relocate if necessary (eg in the event of possible development).

The above are just some of the factors to be considered. So if you ever find yourself in the position of granting or receiving a RoW, make sure you’re getting good advice.