Zieleniewski v (1) Charles Philip Scheyd (2) Lynn Mary Pryor [2012]

This case concerned interference with an agricultural right of way.  The Claimant enjoyed a right of way over Defendants’ land, which he used to access a field by vehicle for collecting and delivering livestock and for hay-baling machines and other agricultural machinery.  When the Defendants erected a wall, narrowing the right of way so as to make it impassable by the Claimant’s hay baling machine, the Claimant sought an injunction and damages.

The judge dismissed his application on the grounds that there was no satisfactory evidence of the interference.  The only evidence put forward by the Claimant was oral evidence.  The Court of Appeal overturned the judge’s ruling and held that there need not be photographic, video or expert evidence.  Oral evidence was sufficient and the judge had not given sufficient reasons for dismissing this evidence in the original decision.

The right of way in this case had been acquired by prescription (uninterrupted use over a long period of time) and there was no defined track.  The right of way was therefore over the whole of the land in question.  Where a right of way exists landowners should be wary before doing anything which may affect it, even though the right of way may still be usable by different methods.  If it is no longer suitable for the beneficiary’s reasonable mode of use, the interference will be unlawful.