Wills Trustees v Cairngorm Canoeing and Sailing School: HL 1976

The public right of navigation (PRN) is a right to public use of the river. The river may be used by the public for purposes of exercise and recreation as well as transport and commerce. At common law PRN cannot be lost by lack of use over time. ‘A public right of way on highways is established by use over the land of a proprietor.’ The existence of the right does not depend upon there being two termini for any journey. The right may embrace the passage of articles without human accompaniment, for instance, the floating of logs on the current either singly or in rafts.


Lord Wilberforce, Lord Salmon, Lord Fraser of Tullybelton


[1976] SC (HL) 30



Cited by:

CitedRowland v The Environment Agency CA 19-Dec-2003
The claimant owned a house by the river Thames at Hedsor Water. Public rights of navigation existed over the Thames from time immemorial, and its management lay with the respondent. Landowners at Hedsor had sought to assert that that stretch was now . .
CitedDirector of Public Prosecutions v Jones and Lloyd HL 4-Mar-1999
21 people protested peacefully on the verge of the A344, next to the perimeter fence at Stonehenge. Some carried banners saying ‘Never Again,’ ‘Stonehenge Campaign 10 years of Criminal Injustice’ and ‘Free Stonehenge.’ The officer in charge . .
CitedAttorney-General (ex relatione Yorkshire Derwent Trust Ltd) v Brotherton HL 5-Dec-1991
The appellants owned land through which flowed the river Derwent. Attempts were to be made to restore the river to navigability. The appellants denied that any public rights existed over the river.
Held: The 1932 Act could only give rise to a . .
Lists of cited by and citing cases may be incomplete.

Utilities, Transport, Land

Updated: 25 November 2022; Ref: scu.190125