Interfering with a Private Right of Way Take Caution

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Interfering with a Private Right of Way Take Caution

It has been established in case law that the installation of a gate onto a private right of way will not always amount to interference. In the case of Hutton v Hamboro [1860] it was held that there can be no substantial interference if, despite the obstruction, the right of way can be 'practically and substantially exercised as conveniently' as it was before. However, the recent case of Kingsgate Development Projects Ltd v Jordan and another [2017] highlights that the erection of numerous gates in close proximity to one another may amount to a substantial interference and the courts may order its removal.

The facts of the case are as follows:

The Jordans own a property situated next to Kingsgate Farm. Kingsgate Farm has a right of way over a track on the Jordans land which was expressly granted in a 1960 Conveyance. There were already two gates along the track when the Jordans purchased the land in 2012. The first was an electric gate operated by a push button and the second was an unlocked gate. Kingsgate claimed that the Jordans had interfered with their right of way by erecting a third additional gate on the land, thus rendering the track unusable. Kingsgate claimed that the interference was detrimental to them, as large delivery vehicles were unable to pass through.

The judge found in favour of Kingsgate and ordered that the gate erected by the Jordans be removed. Essentially, the individual gate itself was not an issue. The installation of the additional gate meant that there were three gates situated along the right of way in close proximity to one another (over a length of less than 100 metres) and it was this that was held to be a substantial interference.

It is also worth noting that the judge found that the first electric gate did not amount to a substantial interference, as it required a simple press of a button and therefore was more convenient than manual gates or gates that required a code or fob. Bear this in mind when deciding on a method of operation.

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