“Love thy neighbour”… and let them access your land

We are now three months on from the judgment in Prime London Holdings 11 Limited v Thurloe Lodge Limited, and what have we learnt?

For the first time in 30 years, the High Court was tasked to consider the legal test that applies to the granting of an access order.

If granted, an access order permits access over adjoining or adjacent land for the purpose of carrying out “basic preservation works” to one’s own property.

In the cited case, the Court applied a five-stage test:-

  1. Are the works reasonably necessary for the preservation of the whole or any part of the claimant’s land?
  2. Would it be impossible, or substantially more difficult, to carry out the works without entry to the other land?
  3. If the order is granted, would the adjoining owner or any other person suffer interference with, or disturbance of, their use or enjoyment of the adjoining land?
  4. If the order is granted, would the adjoining owner or any other person occupying the land suffer hardship?
  5. Would the interference, disturbance or hardship arising from entry onto the land occur to such a degree that it would be unreasonable for the court to make an order?

Where obtaining access to one’s property over neighbouring or adjoining land for basic preservation works is contentious, this decision provides practical guidance.

However, the Judge was critical of the time and legal costs which had been incurred in the case; concluding that the Biblical precept to “love thy neighbour” is one that owners of neighbouring properties would do well to abide by.

The key takeaway from this case is that when parites are involved in a dispute relating to access rights, pragmatic discussions and a mediated settlement should always be considered before proceeding with lengthy and costly litigation.

Prime London Holdings 11 Ltd v Thurloe Lodge Ltd

The Court held that it was appropriate to grant an access order under section 1 of the Access to Neighbouring Land Act 1992.