Dyer v Dorset County Council: CA 1988

The court discussed what was meant by the curtilage of the appellant’s house: ‘Thus the sole issue is whether Mr Dyer’s house is or is not within the curtilage of another building or, by the application of section 6 of the Interpretation Act 1978, of more than one other building. This is a question of fact and degree and thus primarily a matter for the trial judge, provided that he has correctly directed himself on the meaning of ‘curtilage’ in its statutory context.’ and ‘Parliament has not seen fit to define the word ‘curtilage’ in this statutory context and we have to regard to dictionaries and to such authorities as to its meaning as existed in 1980 and 1984.’ and ‘There are also a number of ecclesiastical authorities to the effect that a curtilage must be near a house and must ‘belong’ to it …’ ”Curtilage’ seems always to involve some small and necessary extension to that to which the word is attached.’ Nourse LJ: ‘I agree. The derivations mentioned in the Oxford English Dictionary (French, courtil – a little court or garth; Italian, corte; Mediaeval Latin, cortile or curtile – a court or yard) rather suggest that ‘curtilage’ started life as a word describing a small area enclosed by walls or buildings, the smallness of the area being emphasised by the diminutive suffix ‘age’, as in village. The need for physical enclosure of the area having disappeared in current usage, the dictionary definition, which I quote in full, is for most present-day purposes adequate.’ and ‘While making every allowance for the fact that the size of a curtilage may vary somewhat with the size of the house or building, I am in no doubt that the 100 acre park on the edge of which Mr Dyer’s house now stands cannot possibly be said to form part and parcel of Kingston Maurward House, far less of any of the other college buildings. Indeed, a park of this size is altogether in excess of anything which could properly be described as the curtilage of a mansion house, an area beyond which no conveyancer would extend beyond that occupied by the house, the stables and other outbuildings, the garden and the rough grass up to the ha-ha, if there was one.’ Mann LJ: ‘The word ‘curtilage’ is a term of art and, in employing it, the draftsman and Parliament must have had regard to its meaning as such a term. Its meaning as a term was discussed in Metheun-Campbell. It appears from that decision that the meaning of the word ‘curtilage’ is constrained to a small area about a building. The size of the area appears to be a question of fact and degree.’


Lord Donaldson of Lymington MR, Nourse LJ, Mann LJ


[1988] 3 WLR 213, [1989] 1 QB 346


Interpretation Act 1978


England and Wales


CitedJepson v Gribble 1876
A house occupied by the medical superintendent of an asylum fronted on to a public road and had access from the back to the asylum itself, although it was very much closer than to the asylum than are the lecturers’ cottages to any other college . .
CitedMethuen-Campbell v Walters CA 1978
The curtilage of a house is narrowly confined to the area surrounding it and did not extend to a paddock. Buckley LJ said: ‘In my judgment, for one corporeal hereditament to fall within the curtilage of another, the former must be so intimately . .

Cited by:

AppliedSkerritts of Nottingham Limited v Secretary of State for Environment, Transport and Regions, Harrow London Borough Council Admn 22-Mar-1999
The curtilage of a building is a small area around it. An assessment of whether a separate structure was within the curtilage which did not consider the distance between the various buildings must be incorrect in that it had omitted an essential . .
CitedCrockett v Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions and another Admn 24-Oct-2002
The applicant built a shed on land behind his bungalow, but without planning consent. The planning authority issued enforcement proceedings. He appealed, contending that it fell within the Order. The inspector visited the property, and decided that . .
CitedLowe v First Secretary of State and Another Admn 6-Feb-2003
The landowner appealed against an enforcement notice issued with respect to a chain link fence erected along the driveway of his grade II listed building. He said the drive was not part of the curtilage of the building.
Held: The inspector had . .
Lists of cited by and citing cases may be incomplete.

Planning, Land

Updated: 31 July 2022; Ref: scu.181012