Appeal Court rules that village-greens law complies with human-rights law

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We are pleased that the Court of Appeal has confirmed that the law for registering land as a town or village green complies with human rights legislation.  The test case concerned land at West Beach, Newhaven, in East Sussex, where Newhaven Town Council has fought two legal challenges to its application to register the land as a green.

West Beach, Newhaven

West Beach, Newhaven

In March 2013 the Court of Appeal overruled a High Court decision and confirmed that the land could be registered as a village green.  The landowner, Newhaven Port and Properties Ltd (NPP), argued additionally that village-greens law conflicted with human-rights legislation and this part of the case was deferred for further consideration.  The court ruling, rejecting NPP’s argument, was published on 14 June.

NPP argued that the land should not be registered as a green because the village green legislation as a whole was incompatible with its rights as owner under Article 1 of the European Convention on Human Rights.  Article 1 provides that ‘everyone is entitled to the peaceful enjoyment of his possessions’ and that ‘no one should be deprived of his possessions except in the public interest’.The Court of Appeal has vindicated our commitment to the retention of the legislation which allows local people who have used land for recreation for over 20 years to apply to register it as a village green under the Commons Act 2006.

The court has said that while registration does restrict the way an owner can use the land, the legislation is proportionate because a landowner can prevent rights from being established.

Says Nicola Hodgson, our case officer: ‘We are pleased that the court has confirmed that village green registration is a legitimate way of enabling land to be protected’.

Read the judgment here.

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