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Construing rights of way

This page contains a statement of the general principle that applies when interpreting easements; ie that:
    "The task of interpretation with which the court is faced requires the intention of the parties to the original conveyances to be ascertained from the words of the grants read in the light of the background circumstances which would have been known to the parties."
It also deals with the following:
  • The phrase "a right of way at all times ... for all purposes connected with the reasonable enjoyment of the property" - did the factual circumstances narrow what on the face of it was clearly a very wide right?
  • A right of way relating to vehicles will generally be limited to the width of the track and does not include a right to use the space beyond the track boundaries. There is no concept of "swing room".
  • The phrase "all reasonable and usual purposes" - was that clause narrowed by the use of the dominant land - mentioned in the grant - at the time of the grant?
  • The term "rebuilding or renewal" - did the easement allow access for redevelopment?

Right of way

At all times and for all purposes

Brooks v Young
[2008] EWCA Civ 816


This is a neat example of a widely drafted right of way that will not be interpreted narrowly just because it inconveniences the owner of the servient tenement or because the owner of the dominant tenement could easily use some other means of access.


One set of neighbours had a right of way to the rear of their property over the garden of the adjoining property. The grant was in the following terms:
    "The Transferor grants to the Transferees and their successors in title and their licensees a right of way at all times with or without tools and equipment over and along the footpath shown coloured yellow on the plan annexed hereto for the purposes of gaining access to and egress from the rear of the property for all proper purposes connected with the reasonable enjoyment of the property causing as little damage as reasonably possible and forthwith making good any damage occasioned in the exercise of the right hereby granted"
The neighbours complained of excessive use on the grounds that the owners of the right ... THIS IS AN EXTRACT OF THE FULL TEXT. TO GET THE FULL TEXT, SEE BELOW

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