nplaw’s Phillip Hopkins has won his first case before the Great Yarmouth Land Registration Tribunal. Phillip inherited the matter in early 2015, shortly before he qualified as a solicitor. At that time it had been ongoing for two years (and had been preceded by a similar case involving the same parties). Phillip acted for Martham Parish Council, the respondent in a case brought by the owner of an eighteenth century property that fronts Martham village green. The applicant claimed a right of way entitling him to drive across the village green to his property (otherwise inaccessible by car). He initially based this claim on modern user but subsequently relied on historical documents.
Phillip worked closely with the Parish Clerk, Sarah Hunt, who carried out a huge amount of background research into ancient parish documents and maps, including the Martham Enclosure Act of 1807 and Award of 1812. nplaw instructed Vivian Chapman QC, an acknowledged expert on commons and village greens, to represent Martham Parish Council at the hearing. The hearing took place in May 2016 and the Tribunal’s decision was issued in August, the judge finding in favour of Martham Parish Council. The judge held that the facts did not support an argument that the principle of non‑derogation from grant entitled the applicant to an implied easement giving him a right of vehicular access. The Tribunal also found that immunity from suit (an obligation imposed on the grantor of land not to use his land in a way which would render the land less fit for the purpose for which the land was granted) was not “an estate, right or interest excepted from registration” which would allow the register to be altered to give effect to it.