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Rights of way: what is interference?

View profile for Claire Richardson
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A right of way is a legal right of access over property which belongs to someone else. Rights of way take many forms and often contain conditions as to the means and purpose for which they were created. You may for example, have a right of way over your neighbour’s land for the limited purpose of maintaining and repairing your own property, or a right to drive over your neighbour’s driveway to gain access to your own. But what are your legal rights when things go wrong?

If someone is causing problems with your ability to use a right of way the law refers to this as an interference. Not every interference with your right of way will be actionable in the courts. The interference must be substantial. There can be no substantial interference with your right of way if, despite the obstruction you can use the right of way as “conveniently and practically as before”. So, for example the erection of a gate across a right of way may not amount to a substantial interference but the erection of several gates might. Likewise the addition of a lock on a gate may not amount to a substantial interference if for example you are provided with a key.

The court will be concerned with whether your insistence on being able to use the whole of the right of way as it was originally granted to you is reasonable. This will very much depend on the circumstances of your individual case. Provided that what you are insisting on is not unreasonable the question is "can the right of way be substantially and practically exercised as conveniently as before?".

If you believe that your right of way is being interfered with, speak to our neighbour dispute specialists on 0161 696 6178.