Farm Ireland

Monday 18 February 2019

Farmers face new right of way battle

Martin Ryan

Tens of thousands of farm rights of way, which have been established by farming families over generations and handed down, are to be abolished under new legislation.

Immediate action is required by farmers to protect their entitlement to the future use of rights of way over neighbouring lands as the traditional "rights" will no longer have a standing in law, legal experts have warned.

Under the Land and Conveyancing Reform Act 2009, which has now become law, traditional rights for farmers over neighbouring lands by virtue of right of way will no longer exist unless the "right" is registered as an easement on the lands.

However, the establishment of these rights and the registration of the "right of way" on the land folio is expected to result in a raft of bitter law cases between neighbouring farmers over the coming months.


Limericj solicitor Martina Murphy, practising partner in the legal firm of Murphy Boyce Solicitors, said very few farmers were aware of the implications of the legislation and the limited time left to retain their rights.

"Easements, which include rights of way, way leaves, rights to cut turf, drainage or other utilities, will be extinguished under the new Act, unless registered before November 30, 2012," she explained.

"While these rights have been virtually inextinguishable in the past under the new legislation, ancient rights of way could be lost unless formally registered.

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"The land you cross to reach a field, a house, a shop, while not belonging to you, and which has been used by you and yours for generations, will now have to be formally registered to remain in your use after November 30 next year," she added.

To establish their right in court, and have the right of way confirmed, applicants must prove they had used the right of way regularly over a period of 12 consecutive years, prior to December 1, 2009.

The legislation makes an exception for what is known as a "right of way of necessity" - a right of way to a landlocked parcel of land to which there is no other means of access.

"Landowners are not allowed to challenge what are called rights of way of necessity, but they have to be registered, which is especially important when it comes to selling on a property," she warned.

Indo Farming