You are the Judge – a boundary dispute


The eighth scenario in our You are the Judge series is a boundary dispute. These are more common than you would think, and amazingly can escalate into surprisingly serious situations. Vendettas can build which often end up much more serious than the original boundary issue.

So, what do you think the correct answer is in this situation?

Boundary disputes

James and Hannah bought their dream cottage in 2011. It is secluded in a remote field, surrounded by pastures. It is only accessible via a long winding path that takes in a babbling brook, blackberry bushes and a small bluebell-sprinkled copse of trees.

Unfortunately, as time passed, these attractions lost a little of their charm and the long walk to the front door has become an inconvenience. The couple have taken to jumping over a wall and hurrying across the pasture to their cottage, cutting a good twenty minutes off their journey.

However, as of this year the fields are no longer pasture. The farmer who owns them has decided to start using them to grow wheat. He has even erected No Trespassing signs to protect the delicate crop and, in any case, the newly ploughed fields are impassable on foot.

James and  Hannah have come to your court claiming they have a right of way over the fields to their house.

Do they have the right to a pathway to their home? Can the farmer deny them this right?

The answer:

An easement of Right of Way can be implied in some cases, but it would not be in this scenario.

There was clearly no intention that the farmer’s fields be used for access to the cottage; the couple have to jump over a wall to reach them. Whilst in some cases a right of way may be created by necessity, it must be impossible to access the property any other way. That is not the case here and unfortunately for James and Hannah inconvenience alone is not enough to justify encroaching on the farmer’s fields.

They must go back to using their picturesque, if tiresome, country path.

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