Christopher Knight in Leading Judgment on Appropriations


In a detailed and considered judgment, Lewison LJ has analysed and set out the law relating to the concept of appropriations of land between different uses in local government law in R (Adamson) v Kirklees Metropolitan Borough Council [2020] EWCA Civ 154. The particular context of the case arose from the requirement in section 8 of the Allotments Act 1925 that only land purchased or appropriated for use as allotments required the consent of the Secretary of State before the local authority could sell or appropriate the land to a different use. The land in question had been used for allotments over an extensive period, but the historical documents did not clearly show an appropriation to allotment use.

Lewison LJ’s judgment addresses relevant powers of appropriation in the allotment context, and the case law which discusses what is required to be shown for an appropriation. Approval is given to the analysis of Dove J in R (Goodman) v Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs [2015] EWHC 2576 (Admin) that a ‘conscious deliberative process’ is required, particularly where the general power of appropriation (now in section 122 of the Local Government Act 1972) which requires the authority to have concluded that there is no longer a requirement that the land be used for its existing purpose is being used.

Reviewing the evidence, the Court of Appeal unanimously overturned the High Court’s ruling that there had been an appropriation in 1935 by reference to consideration of a town planning scheme, and held that there was not a sufficient evidential basis to establish or infer an appropriation. Consent of the Secretary of State was accordingly not required. Christopher Knight appeared, unled, for Kirklees Council. The judgment may be read here.