The following Property practice note provides comprehensive and up to date legal information covering:

  • Easements—extinguishing
  • Unity of seisin
  • Unity of ownership
  • Unity of possession
  • Land subject to leases
  • Land subject to charges
  • Effect on easements of merger of leasehold with freehold
  • Implied easements and reviving rights of way
  • Extinguishment and HM Land Registry
  • Possible reform


There are different ways in which an easement may cease to exist and this Practice Note looks primarily at unity of seisin, also known as unity of ownership.

For other ways in which an easement may be extinguished, consider:

  1. abandonment; see Practice Note: Easements lost by abandonment

  2. express agreement; for example, see Precedent: Deed of release of easement

  3. statute; for example, see Practice Note: Overriding easements and other rights

  4. the execution of works in compliance with a statutory order which prevent the easement from being capable of being exercised, or

  5. the lawful removal of the structure over which the easement exists

Unity of seisin

Unity of ownership

Unity of seisin (in modern terms, unity of ownership) is where the ownership of the freehold interest in both the dominant and servient tenements come into the ownership and possession of the same person. This is in line with the principle that it is not possible to have an easement over one’s own land.

It is generally accepted that for an easement to be extinguished by unity of ownership, the ownership in question must be for an estate in fee simple absolute although there is no express authority on this point.

In R v Inhabitants of Hermitage ([1692] 1 Show 106 (not reported by LexisNexis®)), rights belonging to the Crown over land belonging to the Duchy of Cornwall were not extinguished when

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