Commission for New Towns and Another v JJ Gallagher Ltd: ChD 16 Dec 2002

Where a conveyance did not expressly include an adjoining road, there was no statutory presumption which would lead to its inclusion.
Held: The section referred to incorporeal rights, easements and similar, and not to land itself. The Act did not operate so as to include the roadway. The Berridge case referred to cases where the roadway fell to be divided by presumption. Here the entire width was owned, but the presumption would operate as to the entire roadway.
Neuberger J said: ‘So far as principle is concerned, the highway presumption is that, in the absence of a good reason to the contrary, where a vendor conveys land adjoining the highway and (as is usual) he therefore owns the land of the adjoining highway ad medium filum, he should be presumed to have conveyed away that land, which he owns under the highway, together with the land the subject of the express conveyance. The rule is essentially one of convenience, both in public terms and bearing in mind the interests of the parties. It is undesirable, in terms of public interest, to have odd pieces of land, whose ownership is largely academic in practice (unless, for instance, the highway is diverted), vested in persons who have no interest in any adjoining land, and who may well not even be aware that they own part of the highway. It is in the interest of the parties to a conveyance that the purchaser takes the adjoining highway land, essentially for the same reason. On that basis, if the adjoining owner happens to own more than half the width of the adjoining road, even all the adjoining road, it would seem logical that the presumption should lead to his being deemed to convey away the whole of his interest in the adjoining road. To put the point more simply, if the rule is that, in the absence of good reason, a person should not retain the half of a highway adjoining land which he sells, it seems almost a fortiori that he should not retain the other half of the adjoining highway, if he happens to own that half as well. Further, there is no inherent reason why the soil of the whole of the highway should not be deemed to be conveyed away: consider a case where the vendor owns, and is conveying land on each side of the highway.’

Neuberger J
[2002] EWHC 2668 (Ch), [2003] 2 P and CR 24
Law of Property Act 1925 62(1) 62(4)
England and Wales
CitedBerridge v Ward 1861
The court set out the presumption ad medium filum as follows: ‘Where a piece of land which adjoins a highway is conveyed by general words, the presumption of law, is that the soil of the highway usque ad medium filum passes by the conveyance, even . .

Cited by:
CitedPaton and Another v Todd ChD 11-May-2012
The claimants sought leave to appeal against rejection of their request made to the Deputy Adjudicator for the rectification of the title to land they claimed title to land which was registered to the respondent neighbour.
Held: The claimant’s . .

Lists of cited by and citing cases may be incomplete.


Updated: 20 November 2021; Ref: scu.178611