The Minister for Justice is to seek approval from cabinet colleagues today (Tuesday) for a bill to revoke the upcoming changes to registering rights of way that are due to take effect from December 1, Agriland understands.

Minister Heather Humphreys recently acknowledged that stakeholders, such as the Law Society of Ireland, have “expressed concerns about problems that will arise” from the ending of the ‘transition period’ after which new rules on registering ‘prescriptive easements’ – such as rights of way – will come into force.

Land and Conveyancing Law Reform Act 2009

The Land and Conveyancing Law Reform Act 2009 was brought in to modernise this area of law in Ireland.

The 2009 changes amended how easements – rights that allow the use of another person’s property for a specific purpose, such as a right of way – could be acquired by long use / prescription.

The act introduced a requirement for a court order if rights were to be claimed through long use, and then the order would have to be registered with the Property Registration Authority (PRA).

Then, in 2011, the law was again changed; so that where there were rights of way agreed by neighbouring landowners, there would be no need for any court order, and the claimant could apply to the PRA directly for their claim to be registered.

The deadline to register as such was extended to November 30, of this year, which Minister Humphreys is proposing to revoke.

The minister is expected to seek approval to fast-track a short bill and avoid pre-legislative scrutiny to remove the main changes that are due to take effect from December 1. Enactment of the bill would result in the law largely reverting to the pre-2009 position.

Advice of Attorney General

Minister Humphreys said last week in response to a parliamentary question that her department was seeking the advice of the Attorney General in relation to the rights of way deadline and the changes that would follow.

She said at the time that “it is likely an interim solution will require urgent legislation to be enacted before the end of November”.

In a submission to the Department of Justice last May, the Law Society said that a further six-year extension for registering rights of way should be put in place.

The society said that the “second most common problem” created for solicitors and clients by the 2009 act related to the right of way to farms.