Bringing the law of property “into the 21st Century”

Property owners are expecting the Government shortly to introduce significant changes to property law. The Queen’s Speech included a proposal for legislation to implement the recent recommendations of the Law Commission (see link to report below). The Commission is the body which makes proposals to the Government on significant changes to the law.

The Commission recommended substantial updating of the law relating to easements, covenants and profits a prendre, as well as a “modern registration system”. As the Commission put it, the law needs to be “fit for the needs of the twenty-first century”.

The main proposals from the Commission’s report and the draft bill are as follows:

  • Making it possible for the benefit and burden of positive obligations to be enforced by and against subsequent owners;
  • Simplifying and making clearer the rules relating to the acquisition of easements by prescription (or long use of land) and implication, as well as the termination of easements by abandonment;
  • Giving greater flexibility to developers to establish the webs rights and obligations that allow modern estates to function;
  • Facilitating the creation of easements that allow a substantial use of land by the benefiting owner (for example, rights to park a car); and
  • Expanding the jurisdiction of the Lands Chamber of the Upper Tribunal to allow for the discharge and modification of easements and profits created post-reform.

Hannah Jones

Link to Law Commission Report 2015-2016: