Rights of Way

This article is intended to provide some basic guidance on rights of way, how they are defined and a simple summary of how they function. However, the law which surrounds rights of way is complex and by their nature, rights of way are varied. While there may be some defining characteristics that are common to all, the details of individual rights of way must be examined closely to see how they affect the property to which they relate.

As with all of our articles, the within information is not a substitute for legal advice and we recommend you consult a solicitor to discuss your particular circumstances for advice tailored to your situation.


A right of way is a form of easement, which is a category of legal rights that generally amount to rights to cross or otherwise use another’s lands for a specific purpose. Other examples of common easements would be wayleaves for water or sewer pipes or percolation areas for septic tanks, etc. While this article is intended to be a simple guide to the nature and issues surrounding rights of way, there are a number of characteristics that must be present to meet the definition of an easement, the most obvious of which are as follows:

There must be two properties, one which enjoys the benefit of the right (the dominant property) and the other over which the right is enjoyed (the servient property).

The owners of the dominant and servient properties must not be the same person (i.e. one cannot have a right of way against oneself).

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