Andrew Sharland QC and Katherine Taunton successful in Supreme Court case concerning Town and Village Greens

Cases

The Supreme Court has today given judgment in T W Logistics Ltd v Essex County Council and another [2021] UKSC 4.

The case concerned the registration by the Council of part of the privately owned Port of Mistley as a Town or Village Green (TVG). By section 15 of the Commons Act 2006, land is registrable as a town or village green where a “significant number of the inhabitants of any locality…have indulged as of right in lawful sports and pastimes on the land for a period of at least 20 years…”

The main question in the appeal was whether (as TWL contended) registration had the consequence that the continuation of the landowner’s pre-registration commercial uses of the land would be criminalised under two Victorian statutes which prohibit certain activities on TVGs.

The Court unanimously dismissed TWL’s appeal (Lord Sales and Lord Burrows, with whom Lady Arden, Lady Black and Lord Stephens agreed).

The Court held that local inhabitants’ right to use the land for recreation following registration is subject to the “give and take” principle recognised in R (Lewis) v Redcar and Cleveland Borough Council (No 2) [2010] UKSC 11, having regard to the right of the landowner to carry on their co-existing pre-registration activities. The Victorian statutes should be interpreted as part of the general statutory scheme for the protection of rights in relation to TVGs, including the Commons Act 2006. Since the mischief to which the Victorian statutes is directed is the prevention of public nuisances on TVGs, they do not prohibit the landowner carrying on its lawful pre-registration uses of the land.  Such activities are warranted by law under the principle recognised in Lewis and will not constitute an offence.

The judgment is significant in clarifying the scope of inhabitants’ and landowners’ respective rights following the registration of land as a TVG.

Andrew Sharland QC and Katherine Taunton acted for Essex County Council. The full judgment can be read here.