Key points

  • A person exercising a right of way must do so at a reasonable speed
  • What is reasonable will depend on the circumstances

Facts of Jeffries v Robb

In Jeffries v Robb, the appellant had a right of way "for all purposes" across the respondent's land. The respondent claimed that the appellant was conducting a harassment campaign, by using the right of way to photograph, spy and eavesdrop on the respondent. The land in question was agricultural and the appellant had fitted a video camera to her tractor which she used to film the respondent's land as she drove by.

At first instance the respondent obtained an injunction against the appellant, which prevented the appellant from lingering or loitering on the right of way. In particular, it only allowed the appellant to pass along the right of way if this was "at a reasonable speed". The County Court ruled that a right of way should not be misused to diminish a landowner's enjoyment of his own land more than is inevitable given the right's existence.

The appellant appealed to the Court of Appeal, objecting to the words "at a reasonable speed" in the County Court's order. She argued that this could prevent her from, for example, walking her dog (which might naturally dawdle).

The Court of Appeal dismissed the appeal. It ruled that what is reasonable would depend on the circumstances. If a person was walking with a child or with an elderly person, they may walk slower than they would on their own. The position was similar with walking a dog.

Things to consider

This case demonstrates that the fact that a right of way is expressed to be granted "for all purposes" cannot be used to legitimise actions which would otherwise be unlawful.

It is also interesting to note the Court of Appeal's view that the words "at a reasonable speed" may have been unnecessary (although it was content to leave the order as granted).

This suggests that it is implied into a right of way that it is to be used as such, and not for any other purpose. A person who is using a right of way for the purpose for which it is granted will naturally do so "at a reasonable speed" - but what is reasonable will depend on the circumstances.