The countryside maxim of “live and let live” can produce all sorts of legal headaches. 

Land use may not alter that much over time, but attitudes do change. A farmer may verbally allow a neighbour, whom he has known for years, to bring water to his house across the farmer’s land or use a shortcut across the farmer’s land to the main road.  Years later, when the neighbour sells his house to someone new to the area, that verbal agreement may lead to a court case seeking to establish a right to use that land in perpetuity "an easement" in legal terms.  

More and more city dwellers want to move to the country to live, but rarely understand rural life and ways. Always have any agreement of this kind drawn up in writing and carefully define any right to be granted.

The Right to Roam and Rights of Way

The Highways Act 1980 and the Inclosure Act 1801 are two statutes that are currently being used by the Ramblers Association to establish “lost” footpaths.  Conservative estimates suggest that some 500-1000 "rights of way" could be re-established across the country.

Landowners can mount a defence against any such claim, particularly where the routes were never in fact “set out” or have been lawfully stopped up.  Our expert agriculture lawyers can assist you with these claims and advise on how you can resist them.

We Can Help

At McMillan Williams our mission is "To make quality legal services accessible to everyone." including those who wish to establish a right of use of land or to defend themselves against a right of way.  We understand these problems and can help you to save a great deal of expense and unpleasantness further down the line.

If you wish to talk to one of our expert agricultural lawyers regarding an easement or a right of way call us today on 0203 551 8500 or email us at

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