Rights of Way: Court rules that the right to close gates can be an easement

Disputes over rights of way are common and often make their way to the courts.  In the case of Bradley v Heslin (2014) the court were asked to decide whether a party using a right of way over a shared driveway could also close the gates across it that had been put up by its predecessor as a security measure.  The gates were on the neighbour’s land but nonetheless the court ruled that the right to close the gates existed and that this right had the status of a formal easement in law.

This confirms the legal position that the courts will continue to recognise new types of easements.  Examples have included:

• a right to hang a clothes line

• a right to have a fence repaired

• and even a right to create a nuisance by noise

In the case of the right to close gates the decision seems to have been based on either the fact that this right was linked to the existing right of way or that the original agreement and expenditure relating to the erection of the gates meant the right should continue.  It should be noted that the right was allowed only if it did not substantially interfere with the property on which the gates had been erected.

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