So how many times do they need to cross the land to establish such a right?

A recent case involving a landowner and his neighbour suggests that even infrequent use may be enough if it remains unchallenged over several years.

The landowner’s property contained an unregistered track that was wide enough for a car to drive along.

Between 1971 and 1989, the landowner’s neighbour drove along the track about once a month. The neighbour then sold his property. The new owner also used the track but only on odd occasions between 1989 and the late 1990s.

The issue arose when the landowner decided to object to the track being used.

His neighbour claimed he used the track once or twice a week. He asserted that this gave him a legal right of way because the track had been used continuously by hi
m and the previous owner since 1971.

The adjudicator did not accept that the neighbour used the track once or twice a week. It was more accurate to say he used it ‘sometimes’ when other access roads were blocked.

Nevertheless, the adjudicator held that even this infrequent use was sufficiently continuous in character to grant the neighbour a prescriptive right.

The landowner appealed but the decision has been upheld by the High Court.

Please contact us if you would like more information about the issues raised in this article or any aspect of neighbour disputes.

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