Landowners warned to be ready as changes to ancient land rights set to take effect

Thu 26th Sep 2013

An award-winning South West firm of lawyers has reported an increase in calls from concerned clients in response to forthcoming changes in legislation.

Coodes Solicitors, which has seven offices across Cornwall and Devon, has been supporting landowners ahead of changes in the law, which come into effect at midnight on Saturday, October 12.

The changes centre around overriding interests – historic rights to land – that allow individuals or organisations to make claims on land even if they don’t own it.

Coodes’ managing partner, Jeremy Harvey, said: “We have seen an increase in calls from concerned landowners, especially those in the agricultural sector, who have been contacted by the Land Registry.

“With the deadline fast approaching, individuals and organisations have been busy trying to secure their interests, such as rights to mines and minerals.

“The main concern is that many people did not know that these interests and rights may affect their land and they want to know what they can do.

“In can be distressing and it’s understandable that someone may be worried that their prime farming land could suddenly be mined for minerals by someone who does not own it but who may have rights over it.”

There are six types of overriding interests: franchises; Manorial rights, Crown rents; non-statutory right in respect of embankment, sea or river wall; right to payment in lieu of tithe; and Chancel repair liability.

Franchises: an example is a right to hold a market.

Manorial rights: These date back to the Norman Conquest, but it has not been possible to create such rights since 1925. This is still of particular relevance in Cornwall where the Duchy of Cornwall was a previous landowner and may have retained the benefit of the manorial rights – e.g. the Lord’s sporting rights, rights to mines and minerals and construction and maintenance of dykes, ditches and canals.

Crown rents: Essentially obsolete. An ancient rent that was created over land and payable to the Crown.

Non-statutory right in respect of embankment, sea or river wall: A liability to maintain or contribute to respect of an embankment, sea or river wall. Nowadays most liabilities, such as these, are dealt with by statute.

Right to payment in lieu of tithe: an example is a corn rent.

Chancel repair liability: A common interest that requires the owner to fund repairs to the chancel of a church. Many landowners who have purchased land recently will have an indemnity insurance policy that covers this risk.

If anyone is worried we suggest that it is always best to seek legal advice. For more information please contact Helen Willett on 01736 362294.

Thu 26th Sep 2013

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