deadline for Rights of way: MARCH 2014  

The new Land and Conveyancing Act came into effect in December 2009 and introduced many changes to the law. Of particular interest to farmers is the change to easements (Rights of Way, light, support, water) and Profits-a-Prendre (the right to take produce off the land e.g. fish, game, timber, minerals and turf).

Traditionally, a farmer could acquire a Right of Way based on a period of continuous long user with a minimum of 20 years use (30 years for Profits-a-Prendre) and subject to satisfaction of certain conditions, or alternatively easements were created by an express grant of permission in a written deed, which was then registered in favour of the farmer. The 2009 Act provides that a Right of Way can now only be acquired on foot of a Court Order after a period of 12 years continuous use. The Civil Law (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 2011 extended the deadline for registration until the 30th November, 2021. The use must be without secrecy, without force and without permission of the land owner. The Court Order must then be registered in the Land Registry or Registry of Deeds, so that all parties are on notice of the Right of Way.

What to do if you have been using a right of way that is not registered?

It is important to take immediate steps to protect your interest.

If you have a minimum of 17 years continuous use  (up until the commencement of the action)  over a neighbour’s land as of 1st December,2009 you can still apply for a Court Order under the old law. The deadline for applying for a Court Order under the old law is 30th November 2021 and all claims must be lodged before that date. If you have acquired a Right of Way by prescription or by implied grand or reservation, but same has not been registered in the Land Registry or Registry of Deeds, the Right of Way will be extinguished after 12 years continuous non-use.

What to do if a neighbour is trying to establish a right of way over your land?

According to the Act, a Right of Way can only be registered if it is used without secrecy without force and without permission, so the simplest advice would be to give a written letter of consent to your neighbour to use the right of way, and to renew this consent periodically. You may also place a lock on any gateways, so that the neighbour has to seek your permission each time he needs to traverse your land.

The clock is ticking….

If you have a right of way that you have established through long use, see your solicitor immediately. If you have established a Right of Way and have not used it in some time, make it your business to start using it again and immediately contact us to have your interest registered.