The simple question is “What is the extent of the right of way?” The context for that question was the claim that as long as the wheels of the vehicles in question stayed on the track, then there must be an implied right for a wide vehicle to overhang onto adjoining land.

The correct legal approach to a case like this is to start with a careful examination of the original grant. It has to be looked at in the context of its time to the extent that it will have had an original purpose. If the right as granted was never adequate, then it will be interpreted as having such additional flexibility needed to allow the intentions of the parties to be fulfilled. If however the evidence, as in this case, shows that the terms of the original grant were fit for purpose, a court will not imply future extensions of it just because the size of equipment changes. To do that would mean that a corridor on either side of a right of way would have to be sterilised just in case it might be needed.

The court noted a small possible exception in the case of established grass verge, if it can be demonstrated that the layout of the right of way meant it would be necessary to stray onto the verge in particular places.

The case is a salutary reminder that the client’s best interests are served by doing everything possible to keep disputes of this sort from escalating to the point of litigation. The costs of the case were immense and neither party can have been happy with the outcome.