The government has confirmed that the Land and Conveyancing Law Reform (Amendment) Bill will be published imminently.

In September, Minister Heather Humphreys secured cabinet approval to enact a bill that would remove the upcoming right of way registration deadline of November 30.

The bill will amend the provisions in the Land and Conveyancing Law Reform Act 2009.

Responding to independent TD Michael McNamara in the Dáil, Minister for Finance Paschal Donohoe said the bill will begin its passage in the Seanad next week.

Right of way deadline removal necessary to ‘prevent stress’

Deputy McNamara has previously expressed his support for the short amending bill that will remove an upcoming deadline to register rights of way.

He described the removal of the deadline as “necessary to prevent stress between neighbours and to avoid a large volume of unnecessary court cases to register rights that have existed for generations”.

“In effect, every right of way dispute in the country, and many cases where there is as yet no dispute, would be brought to a head at the end of November, ending up in divisive court cases with inevitable resultant legal costs,” the Clare TD, farmer and barrister added.

“Minister Humphreys has previously acknowledged there is legal uncertainty about how the new rules may be interpreted in practice, and that it has not yet been possible to register many important prescriptive rights.

“These difficulties are also causing significant delays in conveyancing, and in mortgage and farm loan applications.

“The approaching deadline has been a cause of concern for many people, particularly farmers, and it also has been raised with the minister by the Bar Council and the Law Society of Ireland.”

Should the short amending bill successfully pass through the Dáil, as expected, the law applicable to prescriptive easements and profits will largely revert to the judge-made law that applied before the Land and Conveyancing Law Reform Act 2009. 

It will still be possible to confirm a prescriptive right, either by applying to court or by registering it directly with the Property Registration Authority.

However, this will be optional, as it was before the 2009 act, rather than a mandatory requirement to avoid losing any rights of way acquired through long use.