A new, simplified system that allows landowners to register uncontested rights of way with the Property Registration Authority (PRA) without the need of a court order has been given the green light.
Confirmation of the changes was contained in the announcement of the Civil Law (Miscellaneous Provisions) Bill 2011, which was published last Friday by the Minister for Justice, Equality and Defence, Alan Shatter.
The bill includes amendments to the Land and Conveyancing Law Reform Act 2009 and the Registration of Title Act 1964. A Department of Justice spokesperson said it was hoped to have the bill enacted before the Dáil breaks for the summer.
The current provisions of the Land and Conveyancing Law Reform Act 2009 require landowners to apply to the Circuit Court for an order confirming legal title to existing unregistered rights of way and easements by December 2012.
This meant that existing unregistered rights of way would lapse if they were not registered or if legal title were not established through a Circuit Court order.
The proposed amendments will allow a landowner who claims to be entitled to a right of way to apply to the PRA to register that right on the owner's Land Registry folio.
In order to be satisfied that the owner's claim has been substantiated and is not the subject of a dispute, the PRA will serve notice on the relevant parties. The detailed notice and other statutory requirements will be published in the form of a statutory instrument.
The amendments also extend the three-year period during which existing rights of way and easements must be registered to 12 years.
As a result, landowners have until December 2021 to register rights of way.
IFA assistant general secretary Bryan Barry welcomed the move, saying it would resolve an issue that affects tens of thousands of landowners.
"The amending legislation makes good sense and will remove the need to go to court to obtain legal title," Mr Barry said.
"Landowners claiming rights of way will be able to apply to the PRA for a modest fee, enclosing the appropriate maps.
"The PRA will then notify the owner of the other property concerned and, once the application is not contested, the easement will be registered."