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Hotel retains right of way over neighbour's service road

Posted: 1st December 2011   In: Dispute Resolution

The original owner of the hotel had been granted a licence in 1973 to use the road to provide access for coaches and commercial vehicles. That licence was personal to the original owner and ceased to have effect when new owners acquired the hotel in 1980.

In spite of this, however, the hotel continued to use the road. The neighbouring company did nothing to prevent this until 2007 when it asserted that the hotel had no right of way and was therefore trespassing.

The hotel contended that it had acquired a right of way on the basis of at least 20 years continuous use since 1980 when the new owners took over. 

The High Court ruled in favour of the hotel. It said the neighbouring company had not realised until 2007 that the licence to use the road had been personal to the original owner. However, this was something that over a 20-year period it should have considered and checked if it had been diligent in protecting its interests.

It did not do so and the court therefore declared that the hotel had acquired through 20 years of continuous use the right of way over the road for coaches and commercial vehicles. This right did not extend to private cars and taxis as there was no evidence that they had ever used the road to access the hotel.

The Court of Appeal has now upheld the ruling.

Please contact Matthew Melling if you would like more information about the issues raised in this article.