A recent court decision has highlighted the thorny topic of “ransom strips”. Ransom strips, to put it simply, are (usually) small areas of land over which access is required. The ransom strip will not be owned by the person wishing to take the access (A), but by someone else (B). The potential for B to hold A to “ransom” in exchange for granting a right of access gives this particular situation its name.

The Court of Session case of Hamilton v Nairn concerned access from a public road to land lying adjacent to that road, and centred on passage over the verge between the road itself and the land.

It was concluded that because the road was public, and because a public road by statutory definition includes the verge, a right of access to the adjacent land over the privately-owned verge could not be denied. Had the road in question been private, a very different outcome would have been reached. The case report can be read by clicking here.

The law in this area is complex and requires resort to legislation, case law and common law principles. If you believe someone may be taking access over your land without your permission, or if you are worried that you may need to be granted a formal right of access, please do be in touch at an early stage to discuss your situation with us.