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McGeown v Northern Ireland Housing Executive

[1995] 1 AC 233

Case summary last updated at 18/01/2020 15:13 by the Oxbridge Notes in-house law team.

Judgement for the case McGeown v Northern Ireland Housing Executive

P’s husband, X, was a tenant in D’s housing estate. There was a public footpath across the estate, which P had to use to get to the house. Because it was in disrepair, P was injured when using it, and sued D under the 1957 Act. HL denied the claim, saying that a person could not be a “visitor” to a public right of way and because it was a public right of way, it was irrelevant that it was the only route by which P could access the house. 
Lord Keith: It would be an unfairly heavy burden on land owners to demand not only that they allow people to cross their land but also that they maintain public pathways. Also it makes no sense to say that they have been “permitted” to pass through D’s land if they can do so by “right”, since they do not need permission to use the public right of way. “The concept of licensee or visitor involves that the person in question has at least the permission of the relevant occupier to be in a particular place. Once a public right of way has been established, there is no question of permission being granted by the owner of the solum to those who choose to use it. They do so as of right and not by virtue of any licence or invitation”

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