Rights of Way
Walking and riding are highly popular recreations in the United Kingdom. To walkers and riders in the countryside, the network of footpaths, bridleways and other tracks, collectively known as public “rights of way”, is of central importance. For the landowner ascertaining the extent of rights of way will often be of some importance too.
There has been much development in this area of the law since the first Rights of Way Act in 1932, which created a statutory framework within which the creation of a right of way could be presumed from evidence of use by members of the public. The National Parks and Access to the Countryside Act 1949 introduced procedures for recording the public’s rights on definitive maps, which stood as conclusive evidence of those rights. It also provided an orderly means for creating, diverting and extinguishing footpaths and bridleways through a public inquiry procedure. Further statutory modifications were made by the Highways Act 1959, the Countryside Act 1968, and the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981. Most recently, the Countryside and Rights of Way Act 2000 has made wide ranging and substantial changes to the law relating to rights of way.
4-5 Gray’s Inn Square has long been involved in the law relating to rights of way and acting for local authorities, central government and land owners, both in court proceedings and inquiries.