When the upheaval of the 2012 harvest has abated it will pay rural land owners to review any use of their land being made by third parties, warns Edward Worthy, rural partner at Gepp & Sons.
It is common in agriculture for customary arrangements to be left to run on in order to preserve the status quo. However, are you really that sure what the status of all of your land is 'on the ground'? Are there neighbouring home owners who have moved a garden fence in order to enclose some of your land? Does a neighbouring farmer make informal use of your land?
Cases such as J.A. Pye (Oxford) Limited v Graham  UKHL 30 clearly demonstrate the need to regularly review informal arrangements. The payment of a regular licence fee is one method of checking that the identity of the land user has not changed and the arrangement should always be embodied in a formal written agreement.
There is no substitute for management of your land holding by way of regular visits and making enquiry of any person who appears to be making use of your land. What might seem an insubstanial corner of a field may prove to be the key to a new development if you own land on the urban fringe!"
This is not legal advice; it is intended to provide information of general interest about current legal issues.