Davill v Pull and Another: CA 10 Dec 2009

The court was asked to interpret grants of rights of way over land. The claimant intended to increase the use of the right. The servient owners objected. The claimant appealed against refusal of relief.
Held: The appeal succeeded. There was nothing in the context and background to justify the inference that the original parties intended that the easement over the track could only ever be used in connection with the use of the dominant plot as garden land.
Rimer LJ said: ‘The question is . . whether the phrase ‘for all reasonable and usual purposes’, interpreted against the background in which the conveyances were executed, imports the limitation on the grants that the judge derived from them. In my judgment, they do not. Moreover, and with respect, I regard the judge’s interpretation of that phrase as an unnatural one. It is, it seems to me, obvious that no draftsman intent upon limiting the use of the track to a use for the purposes of the garden (or like) use of the plot would have limited its use to ‘all reasonable and usual purposes’.’
Rimer LJ set out the correct approach to the interpretation of an written grant of a right of way: ‘The task of interpretation with which the court is faced requires the intention of the parties to the original conveyances to be ascertained from the words of the grants read in the light of the background circumstances which would have been known to the parties. As I observed in Young v Brooks [2008] EWCA Civ 816, [2008] 3 EGLR 27 at [12] Lord Hoffmann’s five principles of interpretation in the Investors Compensation Scheme case, supra, apply as much to the interpretation of an express grant of an easement as to that of a contract. The context, as the judge rightly said, is all; and [counsel] was correct to emphasise the background scheme against which the grants came to be made.’

Sir Mark Potter P, Rimer LJ
[2009] EWCA Civ 1309, [2010] 1 PandCR 23
England and Wales
CitedFinch v Great Western Railway Company 1879
The extent of the right of way acquired by prescription must be measured by the extent of user during the period of time relied upon. . .
CitedKeefe v Amor CA 1965
The Court declined to limit the extent of a right of way 20 feet wide by reference to the bottleneck at its entrance from the road of 4 feet 6 inches, consisting of a pair of gate pillars and a gate of that width. The grant was over the whole 20 . .
CitedInvestors Compensation Scheme Ltd v West Bromwich Building Society HL 19-Jun-1997
Account taken of circumstances wihout ambiguity
The respondent gave advice on home income plans. The individual claimants had assigned their initial claims to the scheme, but later sought also to have their mortgages in favour of the respondent set aside.
Held: Investors having once . .
CitedMcKay Securities Ltd v Surrey County Council ChD 9-Dec-1998
Where a grant of a right of way is ‘for all purposes’ its use will not be limited by the purposes for which the dominant land was used at the date of the grant. The very general expression was to be given its ordinary unvarnished meaning, as a . .
CitedTodrick v Western National Omnibus Co Ltd ChD 1934
The grant of a right of way was in unrestricted language, but the roadway in question was very narrow and was contained by a retaining wall to prevent it slipping down the valley. It was argued that ‘Here is a reservation of a right of way in . .
CitedYoung and Another v Brooks and Another CA 22-May-2008
Appeal from order as to extent of right of way. Lord Hoffmann’s five principles of interpretation in the Investors Compensation Scheme case apply as much to the interpretation of an express grant of an easement as to that of a contract. . .
CitedJelbert v Davies CA 1968
Lord Denning MR explained that even a right granted in wide terms like ‘at all times and for all purposes’ is not a sole right, if it is used in common with others, and it does not authorise unlimited use. . .
CitedPartridge and others v Lawrence and others CA 8-Jul-2003
The appellants challenged a finding as to the width of a right of way over their land as exercised by the respondents.
Held: The appeal was allowed in part. Peter Gibson LJ said: ‘The claimants now have the security that this court is . .

Cited by:
CitedMilebush Properties Ltd v Tameside Metropolitan Borough Council and Others ChD 13-May-2010
The claimant sought a delaration that it had a right of way over an access road. The defendants said that the agreement fell foul of the 1989 Act.
Held: The claimant was not entitled to the declaration. Agreements under the 1990 Act are . .

Lists of cited by and citing cases may be incomplete.


Updated: 31 October 2021; Ref: scu.383820