Q&As

An individual has had uninterrupted use of land for over 20 years but the use is then interrupted for a significant period (3–4 years). Would this interruption defeat a claim for a prescriptive easement? If it would not, is there a time limit within which the claim must be brought from the date of the interruption?

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Last updated on 12/04/2018

The following Property Disputes Q&A provides comprehensive and up to date legal information covering:

  • An individual has had uninterrupted use of land for over 20 years but the use is then interrupted for a significant period (3–4 years). Would this interruption defeat a claim for a prescriptive easement? If it would not, is there a time limit within which the claim must be brought from the date of the interruption?
  • Background—acquiring easements by prescription
  • Continuous enjoyment
  • Interruption
  • Time limit to bring a claim

An individual has had uninterrupted use of land for over 20 years but the use is then interrupted for a significant period (3–4 years). Would this interruption defeat a claim for a prescriptive easement? If it would not, is there a time limit within which the claim must be brought from the date of the interruption?

Background—acquiring easements by prescription

Easements can be established other than by express deed and implied grant through a process known as prescription. Prescription is defined as ‘a title acquired by use or enjoyment had during the time and in the manner fixed by law’. In other words, prescription is the acquisition of a right through long use or enjoyment; the law presumes that the right was lawfully granted.

One of the most common ways that an easement is established by prescription is under the Prescription Act 1832 (PA 1832). By virtue of PA 1832, s 2, an easement can be established by the dominant owner showing twenty year’s use without interruption of the servient land. There is, of course, the proviso that this 20-year use was not achieved by violence or in secret or is dependent upon the will of another person; namely with consent. See Practice Note: Acquisition of easements by long use and Land Registry Practice Guide 52.

Continuous enjoyment

The user must have been continuous in the sense that the claimant

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Claim definition
What does Claim mean?

The formal assertion of a cause of action by one person (the claimant) against another (the defendant).

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