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Landed Estates must be Aware of Manorial Rights Probe

Large land owners are warned to be aware of a planned Parliamentary probe into manorial rights according to law firm Knights LLP.

A recent spate of applications to claim manorial rights on properties across England and Wales has prompted The House of Commons Justice Committee to hold an inquiry into the issue to inform any future review of the law.

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Kate Smith, partner at professional services firm Knights, believes it is essential for lords of the manor to understand the potential repercussions of the inquiry. She said:
“Lords of the Manor were well aware of the existence of these rights and how valuable they could be. However, most landowners were blissfully ignorant that others could exercise these rights over their land. Now the spotlight has been put onto them by the registration process and the government has announced it is looking into the system.

“Lords of the Manor across both England and Wales – Scotland abolished these rights several years ago –need to be aware of the situation and what it could potentially mean for their rights.

“Protest groups, such as the Peasants’ Revolt from Welwyn Garden City, very publically voice their disapproval of manorial rights and their irrelevance to modern society which, twinned with the increase in numbers of people looking to claim theirs, has caused the government to take a closer look. Although Downton Abbey remains a very popular TV series, it seems that many people are aghast that rights stemming from the feudal system can still be exercised.

“It will be interesting to see what recommendations the Justice Committee make following their inquiry. If manorial rights are abolished without compensation this could give rise to claims for breach of human rights legislation.”

Manorial rights have been in existence for hundreds of years, giving valuable rights to lords of the manor over land owned by others which can include such things as the right to minerals under the land, to shoot over land or to hold a fayre.

Historically, these rights had ‘overriding status’ meaning they continued to exist even where the land over which they could be exercised was sold and the buyer was unaware the rights existed. However, a change in legislation that came into force in October 2013 changed this so manorial rights lost their overriding status if they were not protected by being registered at HM Land Registry.

This requirement led to an increased number of applications to the Land Registry to register rights, notice of which was served on land owners, many of whom were previously unaware that such rights even existed.

Knights llp

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