Call for manorial rights to be abolished

With some British householders still being affected by the exploitation of manorial rights, a recent call for the abolition of the ancient law that grants them has been supported by MPs.

The holders of manorial titles, which can be purchased, sold, or transferred with property, are able to exercise rights over land that may be occupied or owned by others.

These rights – which predate the Norman Conquest – include the ability to legally go hunting, shooting and fishing on land, as well as the right to extract minerals from it.

Under English law, a property’s freehold covers the surface of the land it is built on and not the ground beneath, which belongs to the Crown or other rights holders.

The House of Commons Justice Committee is now in talks with the Law Commission to assess whether the law should be updated.

Sir Alan Beith, chairman of the committee, said: “House owners were astonished to find manorial rights registered on their properties, and worried that this would affect them when selling the house. The lack of understanding of such rights and the way the registration process was carried out and communicated, has led to understandable concerns and anxieties.”

There has been anger from communities across the UK at the existence of the ancient entitlements, and support for their abolition is growing.

Of the many manorial titles in existence, some are held by charitable and educational institutions such as the Duchy of Cornwall, managed on behalf of Prince Charles, and the Church of England.

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Nigel is the Managing Partner and Head of Litigation and Dispute Resolution in the London office of Mackrell Turner Garrett.