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Home > News > Successful Easement Case Reveals Importance of Your Choice in Solicitor

Successful Easement Case Reveals Importance of Your Choice in Solicitor

23 March 2018 |

Our Director of Dispute Resolution, Ken McEwan, has successfully supported a client through a challenging and problematic dispute around easement, the right to cross someone else’s land for a specific purpose. By keeping a cool head and instructing Ken, a leading expert in these types of disputes, our client was able to come out of the case with exactly what they wanted.

So what was the dispute?

The case involved a farmer and builder who had owned his farm in the Cotswolds for many years. During that time, he had exercised the use of a lane between his house and the neighbour for many yes, without event or debate over his easement rights. The lane was on the neighbour’s land, and when a new neighbour moved in, they objected to the use of the lane as they wished to create a paddock with a menage for their horses, and they did not want our client driving his combine harvester or construction machinery passed it.

Why did the dispute happen?

There was a definite clash of cultures between our client and his neighbour: wealthy land surveyor versus Cotswold farmers, who spent more time on their construction business than they did farming. There was a lot of unsightly construction plant on our client’s land which spoiled the neighbours view, which did not help the feeling between the two parties.

Doesn’t sound complicated to me.

It was. Our client’s land was contained in several titles and owned by several different members of his family, acquired at different times. We were relying on express and prescriptive rights, and part of those rights were limited to farming use. The neighbour tried to exploit this with the offer to upgrade our easement to the land servicing the construction yard to an all-purpose easement – in return for surrendering the easement past the ménage.

This was combined with the threat that if we did not accept this, he would close down the client’s construction business. There was also an argument against our client that their prescriptive rights were ineffective because they had used the lane with the consent of the previous owner, which if true, meant that no prescriptive rights could arise.

There were therefore difficult questions of fact and law. As if the situation wasn’t contentious enough, the neighbours had also tried to block the lane to the intense annoyance of our clients.

So what did Gregg Latchams do?

Ken’s approach when he took on the case was to try and negotiate a settlement, whilst at the same time stand firm against the intimidation from our client’s wealthy neighbours. We made full use of Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) with one settlement meeting which failed, and a mediation which succeeded.

The case was resolved after the issue of proceedings by the neighbours at the mediation, involving a deal whereby an agreement was reached to upgrade our client’s prescriptive easements to express easements, and our clients agreed not use part of the lane in connection with the construction business.

How did your client benefit?

Although it doesn’t initially sound like a victory for our clients, it definitely was: we actually gave little away as our client never used the entire lane for the construction business anyway.

What should I do in a dispute?

Instruct a lawyer that knows what they are doing, and try and keep a cool head. In almost every situation there is a resolution that can be reached, and though it may not feel like that at the outset, an expert lawyer with industry knowledge for your challenge.

The contents of this article are intended for general information purposes only and shall not be deemed to be, or constitute legal advice. We cannot accept responsibility for any loss as a result of acts or omissions taken in respect of this article.

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