In a recent case; the Court of Appeal has now, forced Local Authorities to update their definitive maps and include many more public bridleways which could be a potential problem for many land owners.
Local Authorities, as the “surveying authorities” are required by law to keep a record of public rights of way in both England and Wales these are called definitive maps and statements. These maps describe the status of the different types of highway and their location, including bridleways.
What are the facts of the case?
In the recent case of R (on the application of Andrews) v Secretary of State for Environment Food and Rural Affairs  EWCA Civ 669; the court considered whether or not the Inclosure Commissioners of the time had powers under S10 of the Inclosure (Consolidation) Act 1801 to create public bridleways.
The Court of Appeal confirmed that S10 did empower Inclosure commissioners to create both private & public footpaths including bridleways. Additionally, the previous decision declaring that the footpaths and bridleways would only be awarded if they were at least 30 feet wide was overturned, and S10 was held to allow the setting of public footpaths and bridleways at whatever width the commissioner at the time decided.
Why does it apply to me?
In essence this means that post 1801 Inclosure Awards will now have to be scrutinised to ensure that the routes that were set out at this time are updated on the definitive maps. It is estimated that there are between 500 and 1000 other public footpaths and bridleways that were created by commissioners in England & Wales, which are not currently recorded on the relevant definitive maps.
This decision could therefore be an undesirable one for many landowners in the South West, since it could lead to many more public footpaths and bridleways being established.
Ben Delany is a paralegal in the commercial property team at Stephens Scown in St Austell. If you would like to make an appointment to discuss voluntary registration, we will not charge for the initial meeting. This is part of our on-going service and commitment to our clients. If you would like to discuss any of these matters further please call Ben on 01726 74433 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.