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Law Notes Land Law Notes

Easements Notes

Updated Easements Notes Notes

Land Law Notes

Land Law

Approximately 987 pages

Land Law notes fully updated for recent exams at Oxford and Cambridge. These notes cover all the LLB land law cases and so are perfect for anyone doing an LLB in the UK or a great supplement for those doing LLBs abroad, whether that be in Ireland, Hong Kong or Malaysia (University of London).

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Easements Notes

What is an easement?

An easement is the proprietary right of one landowner to enjoy the limited use of the land of another. As a result of this, there are two pieces of land:

  1. The dominant land – to which the right is attached and thus enjoys the right

  2. The servient land – over which the right is exercised and thus must suffer the burden of the right

Distinction can be drawn between two types of easement:

  1. Positive easement – allows the owner of the DT to use some facility upon the servient land

    1. For instance, a right of way to use a path or road

  2. Negative easement- allows the owner of the DT to receive something from the land

    1. For instance, a right to receive light or air from the servient land

      1. It is negative in nature because the DT owner is not entitled to do anything over the land

Easements are property rights which are capable of binding third parties

  • B’s consent for A to go across B’s land is a license of will – this is not an easement

    • A might bolster this license by way of a contract, however A still faces difficult when B sells their land to C

  • As property rights, easements are governed by the numerus clausus principle

    • Parties do not have the power to create a new type of property right

What are the requirements of an easement?

In Re Ellenborough Park a park was placed across from a row of houses. The person owning the park gave the builders of the houses “full enjoyment at all time hereafter” when selling the land to build the houses. The residents of the houses applied for the right to be recognised as an easement.

  • Held: This did constitute an easement

    • In this case Lord Evershed MR set out the four requirements of an easement:

  1. Dominant tenement and servient tenement

  2. Tenements owned by different people

  3. The right must accommodate and serve the dominant tenement

    1. Proximity

    2. Benefit

  4. The easement must be capable of forming the subject matter of a grant

    1. No positive burden on the servient owner

    2. Easement cannot be purely negative

    3. Certainty in the scope of the grant – the nature and extent of the burden must be clear

    4. Cannot amount to exclusive possession (the ouster principle)

Dominant and Servient Tenement

X owns (have a freehold or leasehold title) of a nearby plot of land himself (DT) in order to have an easement.

  • In Rangeley it was confirmed that, as a result, a public road or highway is not an easement, but rather a dedication to the public – a person walking on a road does not need to own a plot of land

In London & Blenheim Estates, A and B tried to finalise the easement (when B purported to grant it), but A did not yet own the DT in respect of which the parking spaces were to be used

  • Held: An easement was not effectively granted

    • At the moment of the grant of easement, A must have the freehold or leasehold title

      • Peter Gibson J said that “If one asks why the law should require that there should be a dominant tenement before there can be a grant, or a contract for the grant, of an easement sufficient to create an interest in land binding successors in title to the servient land, the answer would appear to lie in the policy against encumbering land with burdens to an uncertain extent … A further related answer lies in the reluctance of the law to recognise new forms of burden on property conferring more than contractual rights”

According to the rule in Harris v Flower, a dominant owner who acquires additional land adjacent or close to the dominant land cannot use this easement for the benefit of the additional land.

  • Using the easement for the benefit of the additional land will oft constitute a trespass on the servient tenement

    • Harris v Flower envisages a situation where it is necessary to pass through the servient land to access the dominant land, and necessary to pass through the dominant land to access the additional land

  • The dominant owner might seek to argue, however, that the original easement encompasses the use of the right in relation to the additional land

    • In Peacock v Custins Schiebsmann LJ said that “The law is clear at the extremes. To use the track for the sole purpose of accessing the blue land is outside the scope of the grant. However in some circumstances a person who used the way to access the dominant land but then goes off the dominant land, for instance to picnic on the neighbouring land, is not going outside the scope of the grant”

    • This was later refined in Macepark Ltd v Sargeant, where Gabriel Moss QC (sitting as High Court judge)

      • (1) An easement must be used for the benefit of the dominant land. (2) It must not “in substance” be used for the benefit of non-dominant land. (3) Under the “ancillary” doctrine, use is not “in substance” use for the benefit of the non-dominant land if (a) there is no benefit to the non-dominant land or if (b) the extent of the use for the benefit of the non-dominant land is insubstantial, i e it can still be said that in substance the access is used for the benefit of the dominant land and not for the benefit of both the dominant land and the non-dominant land. (d) “Benefit” in this context includes use of an access in such a way that a profit may be made out of the use of the non-dominant land, e g as a result of an arrangement with the owner of the dominant land.

        • In Peacock v Curtis the question of benefit was answered in respect of whether or not the use had its own “commercial value”

Orthodoxy has suggested that easements are appurtenant to the grantee’s estate in the dominant land, rather than being appurtenant to the dominant land itself

  • As a result, where a lease over the dominant land is terminated, an easement enjoyed by the holder of the lease would also cease

    • BUT: Per Wall v Collins, where the owner of a leasehold converts his interest into the freehold, the easement will not cease to exist

Tenements Owned by Different People

It is impossible to have an easement over your own land per Roe v Siddons.

  • If the DT and ST come...

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