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Crunching Concepts: Unravelling Easements

2 August 2023 | CaseSnappy Team

A public footpath between Woodhouse Eaves and Loughborough on a summer morning.


In this instalment of the "Crunching Concepts" series, we delve into a key aspect of property law - easements. Essential in facilitating increased utility and accessibility of land, easements serve as a cornerstone in the harmonious co-existence of landowners.

What are Easements?

Easements are legal rights or interests that one person holds over another's land without actual possession. These can be rights to light, right of way, or even granting utility companies access for lines and pipes. Easements can be created through an express grant, implication, necessity, or prescription (long-term use of the right) and are classified into positive and negative easements.

Why are Easements Important?

The relevance of easements is threefold:

1. They enhance the use and enjoyment of land by providing essential access and services across other properties. This ensures effective utilization of land resources.

2. Easements serve as a legal buffer in maintaining amicable relations between neighbours by defining their rights and obligations, thereby preventing potential disputes.

3. Easements can significantly influence the value of land, either increasing or decreasing the property price based on the type and intent of the Easement granted.

Unlocking Easements through Case Law

Several key cases serve to illuminate the concept of easements:

Re Ellenborough Park [1956] Ch 131: This seminal case established four essential criteria for a valid easement to exist - a dominant and servient tenement, the Easement should be of use to the dominant land, the title holders should be separate parties, and the rights granted must be able to legally exist.

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