The High Court has held that the erection of a third gate in the space of less than 100m was interference with a private right of way.
The case concerned the situation where Mr X owned a Farm which was subject to a right of way in favour of his neighbour’s farm along a track on Mr X’s land. This right of way was granted in the 1960’s and was not disputed. In 1960, there were no gates along the track.
When Mr X bought the Farm in 2012, there was one electric gate at the entrance to the track by the main road and one gate further along the track which was permanently unlocked. Mr X undertook various works during his ownership including the widening of the track and the installation of a third gate in between the two existing gates. This gate was always unlocked.
The neighbouring farm was acquired by a Company in 2014 for the purpose of development. The Company claimed that the right of way had been substantially interfered with and was unsuitable for its intended use.
It was held by the Court that three gates within less than 100m of each other was a substantial interference with the Company’s right of way. The issue was not the actual gate but rather that it’s presence meant that there were three gates in close proximity which amounted to interference.
In addition to this, the Court distinguished between an electronic gate which was button operated and one which was fob/code operated. The Court noted that a button operated electronic gate which anyone could open was not a substantial interference with a right of way. However, they appeared to imply (as previous case law has also concluded) that the installation of fob or code operated electronic gates in the position where there were no gates before, would be a substantial interference with a right of way.
For more information on private rights of way and obstruction of the same, please contact Stephanie Dennis on 01604 233233 or click here to email Stephanie.