Paul Wilmshurst successful in High Court commons case
Date: 23 June 2023
Court: High Court
Facts: In Rushmer v Central Bedfordshire Council  EWHC 1341 (Ch), the High Court grappled with multiple issues concerning the extent of registered common land affecting two private properties. Central Bedfordshire Council, the commons registration authority, only retained a photocopy of its commons register and there arose doubt as whether the map that it said to be a relevant map for the purposes of the registration was in fact a replacement that did not have statutory effect. The discovery of several alternative maps kept outsides of the register, that looked much more like they were the statutory maps added to the Claimants’ concerns.
The Claimants were represented by Paul Wilmshurst.
Practice Area: Property
The court dismissed the Defendant’s application that it did not have jurisdiction to hear the case and reaffirmed the principle that it will declare the extent of public rights where they have a real effect on private property. Neither should such proceedings be brought by way of judicial review. The court went on to make findings in favour of the Claimants’ case on the identity of the relevant statutory register maps, which had been prepared in compliance with the Commons Registration (General) Regulations 1966.
Importantly, the court also confirmed the applicability of the Scheme for the Regulation and Management of Studham Common 1911 which had been made under the Commons Act 1899 and its interaction with the commons registration system under the Commons Registration Act 1965. Specifically, it dealt with the circumstances and potential for differences in the extent of land under those two regimes.
This judgment, delivered by Mr Nicholas Thompsell (sitting as a deputy judge of the High Court), will serve as a pivotal reference point for future disputes concerning the extent and boundaries of common land.