Comfort for landowners at risk of claims for easements arising by prescription
Easements, or rights of use over another’s property, can be claimed over land if one party can show they have used the other’s land for a sufficiently long time “as of right”, meaning without force, secrecy or permission.
In the case of Taylor v Betterment Properties (Weymouth) Limited and another  EWCA Civ 250 the Court of Appeal considered whether the continuous presence of legible signs, stating that a car park owned by the Conservative Club Association was private and for use by Club patrons only, would render others’ parking use contentious, and therefore not “as of right”.
The Court of Appeal overturned the Upper Tribunal’s decision, and ruled that where a landowner has made its position on someone else’s use of the land clear and obvious by using visible signs, unauthorised use cannot be said to be as of right. Further, the landowner need take no further steps such as confronting users, or issuing legal proceedings: making its position clear through the use of sufficiently clear and visible notices should be sufficient for the landowner to defend its property.
This decision will come as a welcome relief to landowners who now have Court of Appeal guidance as to practical steps they can take to prevent others from acquiring easements over their land.