Wimbledon and Putney Commons Conservators v Dixon: CA 1875

A prescriptive right of way had been enjoyed in connection with the use of the dominant land for agricultural purposes, which had included enlarging the farmhouse and rebuilding a cottage. The dominant owner could not use the way for carting materials for the purpose of effecting a residential development on his land.
James LJ said: ‘We have then to consider whether the character of the [dominant] property can be so changed as substantially to increase or alter the burden upon the servient tenement. I was strongly of opinion that it was the settled law of this country that no such change in the character of a dominant tenement could be made as would increase the burden on the servient tenement.’ and ‘[I]f a right of way to a field be proved by evidence of user, however general, for whatever purpose qua field, the person who is the owner of that field cannot from that say, I have a right to turn that field into a manufactory, or into a town, and then use the way for the purpose of the manufactory or town so built.’ (Baggallay JA) [Y]ou must neither increase the burden on the servient tenement nor substantially change the nature of the user.’ (Mellish LJ), ‘Assuming that it is made out that [the dominant owner] and his tenants have used this way, not exclusively for agricultural purposes, but for all purposes for which they wanted it, in the state in which the land was at the time of the supposed grant – at the time when the way first began – and assuming that there has been no material alteration in the premises since that time, does that entitle [the dominant owner] to alter substantially and increase the burden on the servient tenement by building any number of houses he pleases on this property and giving to the persons who inhabit those houses the right to use the way for all purposes connected with the houses?’

James LJ, Baggallay JA, Mellish LJ
(1875) 1 Ch D 362
AppliedWilliams v James 1867
A right of way had been granted over the plaintiff’s land for the benefit of ‘Nine acre field’ in its ordinary use as a field. Hay grown on both Nine acre field and the adjoining ‘Parrott’s land’ had been mowed and stored on Nine acre field in the . .

Cited by:
CitedMcAdams Homes Ltd v Robinson and Another CA 27-Feb-2004
The defendant blocked the line of a sewer. The claimant alleged that it had an easement and sought the cost of building the alternative pipe. The question to be answered was ‘Where an easement is granted by implication on the sale of a property, . .
AppliedMilner’s Safe Company Limited v Great Northern and City Railway Company ChD 1907
A right of way had been impliedly granted in favour of a number of terraced houses over a passage running to the back of those houses, which were used at the time of grant for residential and warehouse use. A right to use the passageway for an . .
AppliedRPC Holdings Limited v Rogers 1953
A prescriptive right of way had been enjoyed in connection only with agricultural use of the dominant land, which was a field.
Held: The way could not be used in connection with the use of the field as a caravan and camping site. Harman J . .
CitedBritish Railways Board v Glass CA 1965
An easement arising by prescription involves a fictional lost grant. The court considered the extent of user of an easement in relation to a prescriptive right of way for the benefit of land used as a caravan site: ‘A right to use a way for this . .
CitedGiles v County Building Constructors (Hertford) Limited ChD 1971
A right of way had arisen by prescription in favour of land which had two detached dwelling houses on it.
Held: The right of way could continue to be used, even after the two houses had been demolished and replaced by a three-storey block of . .

Lists of cited by and citing cases may be incomplete.


Leading Case

Updated: 02 November 2021; Ref: scu.194014