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The main cases

There are two principle House of Lords cases dealing with town and village greens: R v Sunderland City Council ex parte Beresford (2003) and Oxfordshire County Council v Oxford City Council (2006). This page deals with those cases.


R v Sunderland City Council ex parte Beresford
[2003] UKHL 60

In the first House of Lords case the House held that the provision of benches and the mowing of a 10 acre grass arena used for recreational activities from team games to dog-walking were not acts from which an implied permission to use the land could be inferred to deprive the use of the land of being as of right for the purposes of section 22 of the 1965 Act. In most cases (Lord Scott para 51) a conclusion that implied permission is inconsistent with user as of right may be correct but it is not a rule of law. In the particular case the acts in question were indicative not of permission but of a public body mindful of its responsibilities to discharge its functions for the benefit of the public by providing recreational facilities for inhabitants of the locality. As Lord Walker acknowledged in para 92, the decision may be thought to stretch the concept of a town or village green beyond the limits Parliament intended, and the fear is that landowners will react by seeking to deny access by erecting fencing or notices.

Oxfordshire County Council

Oxfordshire County Council v Oxford City Council
[2006] UKHL 25

The main points decided by the House of Lords in the second case are set out below. The principle opinion is that of Lord Hoffmann:

What is a town or village green?

Even though not expressly asked to do so and not addressed on the issue by counsel (see para 71), the House gave its opinion as to the meaning of a "town or village green" in s 22 of the Commons Registration Act 1965. That section states that "town or village green" means:
    "land (a) which has been allotted by or under any Act for the exercise or recreation of the inhabitants of any locality or (b) on which the inhabitants of any locality have a customary right to indulge in lawful sports and pastimes or (c) on which the inhabitants of ... THIS IS AN EXTRACT OF THE FULL TEXT. TO GET THE FULL TEXT, SEE BELOW

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