The following Property guidance note provides comprehensive and up to date legal information covering:
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:
abandonment; see Practice Note: Easements lost by abandonment
express agreement; for example, see Precedent: Deed of release of easement
statute; for example, see Practice Note: Overriding easements and other rights
the execution of works in compliance with a statutory order which prevent the easement from being capable of being exercised, or
the lawful removal of the structure over which the easement exists
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, rights belonging to the Crown over land belonging to the Duchy of Cornwall were not extinguished when the
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