Marshall v Blackpool Corporation: HL 1934

A land-owner having land adjacent to a public highway has, at common law, free access to and from the highway at any point where they abut.
Lord Atkin said: ‘The owner of land adjoining a highway has a right of access to the highway from any part of his premises. This is so whether he or his predecessors originally dedicated the highway or part of it and whether he is entitled to the whole or some interest in the ground subjacent to the highway or not. The rights of the public to pass along the highway are subject to this right of access: just as the right of access is subject to the rights of the public, and must be exercised subject to the general obligations as to nuisance and the like imposed upon a person using the highway. Apart from any statutory provision there is no obligation upon an adjoining owner to fence his property from the highway . . Moreover the ordinary traffic on any highway is always liable to be increased by the exercise by an adjoining owner of this right of access. A building estate may be developed, or a theatre, concert hall, cinema, or hotel erected on premises which will necessarily involve incalculable increase of traffic. Subject to special statutory provisions protecting footpaths, the right of access is not affected by the fact that part of the highway is only dedicated as a footway, or is otherwise lawfully appropriated to foot passengers. The passage of the public along a footway is always liable to be temporarily interrupted by adjoining owners’ right of access, whether to the footway or the roadway: and the dangers, if dangers there be, of a pedestrian having his path crossed by vehicles exercising right of access may be increased, and lawfully increased, by the adjoining owner or owners increasing their means of access.’
Lord Atkin
[1935] AC 16, [1934] All ER 437
England and Wales
Cited by:
CitedCusack v London Borough of Harrow SC 19-Jun-2013
The landowner practised from property in Harrow. The former garden had now for many years been used as a forecourt open to the highway, for parking cars of staff and clients. Cars crossed the footpath to gain access, and backing out into the road . .
CitedCusack v London Borough of Harrow CA 7-Dec-2011
The claimant sought compensation after the Borough ordered fencing to be erected along the roadside so as to obstruct vehicular access to and from his premises. If the action was taken under section 66(2) and not section 80, then Lewison LJ said . .

These lists may be incomplete.
Updated: 20 June 2021; Ref: scu.535124