Corporation of London v Riggs: CA 1880

The court considered whether a right of way of necessity had been granted: ‘the real question I have to decide is this – whether, on a grant of land wholly surrounding a close, the implied grant, or re grant, of a right of way by the grantee to the grantor to enable him to get to the reserved, or excepted, or inclosed close, is a grant of a general right of way for all purposes, or only a grant of a right of way for the purpose of the enjoyment of the reserved or excepted close in its then that state. There is no distinct authority on the question. It seems to me to have been laid down in very early times that the right to a way of necessity is an exception to the ordinary rule that a man shall not derogate from his grant, and that the man who grants the surrounding land is in very much the same position as regards the right of way to the reserve close as if he had granted the close, retaining the surrounding land. In both cases there is what is called a way of necessity; and the way of necessity, according to the old rules of pleading, must have been pleaded as a grant, all where the close is reserved, as it is here, as a re-grant.’
He went on to consider what the necessity of the case required, saying ‘the object of implying the re-grant, as stated by the older judges, was that if you did not give the owner of the reserved close some right of way or other, he could neither use not occupy the reserved close, nor derive any benefit from it. But what is the extent of the benefit he is to have? Is he entitled to say, I have reserved to myself more than that which enables me to enjoy it as it is at the time of the grant? And if that is the true rule, that he is not to have more than necessity requires, as distinguished from what convenience may require, it appears to me that the right of way must be limited to that which is necessary at the time of the grant; that is, he is supposed to take a re-grant to himself of such a right of way as will enable him to enjoy the reserved thing as it is.
I think it must be limited by the necessity at the time of the grant; and that the man who does not take the pains to secure an actual grant of a right of way for all purposes is not entitled to be put in a better position than to be able to enjoy that which he had at the time the grant was made. I am not aware of any other principle on which this case can be decided.’


Jessel MR


(1880) 13 Ch D 798


England and Wales

Cited by:

CitedAdealon International Proprietary Ltd v London Borough of Merton ChD 12-Apr-2006
The claimant had bought land originally bought from the defendant, but after a long series of events, the only available access was over the retained land. It sought a right of way of necessity.
Held: At the time of the grant, other access was . .
CitedAdealon International Proprietary Ltd v London Borough of Merton CA 25-Apr-2007
The claimant had bought land from the council. The only means of access was over land retained by the council but there was no grant of a right of way. The claimant now appealed refusal of a right of way by necessity.
Held: At the time of the . .
CitedSweet and Another v Sommer and Another ChD 25-Jun-2004
Part of land had been sold off. By oversight no right of way had been taken in favour of the retained land. The dominant owner argued that by demolition of a building a means of access could be found and that therefore no right of way by necessity . .
CitedThompson v Bee and Another CA 20-Nov-2009
The parties disputed the extent and nature of the use allowed for an unregistered but express right of way. The track had been obtained by use for agriculture. The dominant owner appealed against a finding that it was limited to agricultural use, . .
Lists of cited by and citing cases may be incomplete.


Updated: 16 June 2022; Ref: scu.188815