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If you have granted sporting, fishing or shooting rights over your land or you wish to sign a deed granting these rights, we can ensure that your interests are protected and that you fully understand the implications of signing.
We also deal with landowners where the holder of sporting, fishing or shooting rights has raised a complaint over interference with their rights or enforcement action is contemplated.
Our expert solicitors at Roythornes have wide experience in dealing with the law surrounding these types of rights. We always work to resolve matters without recourse to litigation where possible. If court action is necessary, we will prepare a strong case on your behalf and ensure you are robustly represented.
Our sporting, fishing and shooting rights services include:
- Advice on entering into a deed granting or acquiring rights in respect of sporting, fishing or shooting
- Advice and representation in respect of enforcement of rights
- Defending enforcement action
- Sporting, fishing or shooting rights dispute resolution
Our agriculture law solicitors also provide a full range of agricultural legal services.
Get in touch with our sporting, fishing and shooting rights solicitors
Our sporting, fishing & shooting rights expertise
Granting or acquiring sporting, fishing or shooting rights
If you are considering selling or buying land that is subject to sporting, fishing or shooting rights or entering into a deed granting these rights, it is important to have expert legal representation.
This can be a complex area of law with wide scope for disputes and misunderstandings if the relevant documentation is not carefully drafted.
Our team has a high level of experience in dealing with sporting and other rights and we can ensure that your interests are protected as far as possible.
If we are required to draft a deed granting rights, we will work to cover every eventuality, including issues such as access, permission to erect structures and what wildlife can be shot or fished. We can also cover any limitations on numbers, how maintenance such as stock rearing and vermin control will be dealt with and any restrictions on the landowner in respect of use of their land.
Where a landowner who has granted sporting, fishing or shooting rights feels that their rights and interests have not been observed, our team can take steps to enforce these.
We know how important it is to ensure that land is properly used and managed and that any breach of the terms of an agreement is halted promptly before matters escalate.
Similarly, if you hold sporting, fishing or shooting rights, you may wish to enforce these if the landowner is preventing you from exercising them or other agreed issues such as access have become problematic.
We can write to the party in breach setting out the points in issue and requesting that they stop the action complained of.
Defending enforcement action in respect of sporting, fishing or shooting rights
If you have received notice of enforcement action either as a landowner or as a rights holder, we can advise you of your position and the best course of action.
Our sporting, fishing and shooting rights experts will discuss the strength of your case with you and where necessary mount a robust defence.
Sporting, fishing or shooting rights dispute resolution
The best way to resolve legal disputes is often to deal with them outside of the court system. We can negotiate on your behalf and if required, deal with your matter by way of alternative dispute resolution.
If litigation is necessary, we will ensure we prepare the strongest possible case on your behalf.
Sporting, fishing & shooting rights FAQs
What are sporting rights on land?
Sporting rights give an individual or organisation the right to access land belonging to a third party to hunt, shoot or fish. The rights may be purchased by someone or can be retained by a landowner when they sell their land, so that the landowner and the rights holder are two different individuals.
The term ‘sporting rights’ can refer to hunting, shooting, fishing and hawking, so the specific rights that are to be granted should be clearly defined in the deed.
Rights can be granted on a permanent basis or for a limited period of time by way of a licence.
The individual with the benefit of the rights can also be granted the right to access the land to maintain it for the game as well as to rear young stock there, depending on the terms of the deed.
What does fishing rights mean?
Where a non-tidal river or stream runs through land, the landowner will generally have the right to fish there, unless this right has been sold, leased or licensed.
Where a non-tidal river or stream runs along the boundary of land, with the opposite bank owned by someone else, the landowner only has the right to cast as far as the centre line of the river or stream and no further.
The landowner only owns the bed of the river or stream and not the water it contains.
An agreement can be entered into to sell, lease or license the rights to fish, meaning the landowner would no longer be able to fish there, depending on the terms of the agreement. Rights can be expensive and are often sold or leased by the yard.
Legislation also applies to fishing, with an annual close season prohibiting freshwater fishing in all rivers, streams and drains in England and Wales from around 15 March to 15 June.
Does all land have sporting rights?
All land has sporting rights. It is often the case that these are simply included when you buy and sell land, without specifically being mentioned.
Where the sporting rights have value however, they can be dealt with separately. This means you could purchase sporting rights without buying the land or conversely buy land where the sporting rights belong to a third party.
For those with large areas of land such as estate owners or farmers, sporting rights can be lucrative.
Are sporting rights an easement?
Sporting rights have traditionally been considered to be a profit à prendre, rather than an easement. A profit à prendre is the right to do something on land and the right to take something away. The reason that sporting rights are dealt with in this way is because wild creatures do not belong to anyone unless they are killed or captured and tamed.
Can a right of recreation qualify as an easement?
The 2018 Supreme Court case of Regency Villas Title Ltd and others v Diamond Resorts (Europe) Ltd and others  UKSC 57 has held that sporting rights can form the basis of an easement where the other four conditions of an easement are met. Where a valid easement exists, this is an enforceable right over someone else’s land.
This does not mean that every sporting right will be considered to be an easement; in most sporting cases an easement is not likely to be created, but landowners are strongly advised to take expert advice before granting sporting rights to avoid inadvertently creating an easement.
Does an easement require positive action on the part of the servient owner?
To create an easement, there must be a dominant and servient owner, with the easement accommodating the dominant owner. The dominant owner is the landowner.
In the case of easements, ‘accommodating’ means that the easement must have some positive impact on the land. In the case of Regency Villas v Diamond Resorts it was found that where the right granted was recreational or sporting, it was ‘not fatal’ to the creation of an easement.
Why choose Roythornes’ sporting, fishing and shooting rights solicitors?
The issues surrounding sporting, fishing and shooting rights can be complex and the rights extremely valuable in some cases. If you are buying or selling land or rights, you need to be sure exactly what is included and that any agreement for rights is clearly drafted.
Our team has in-depth expertise in managing sporting, fishing and shooting rights and we will ensure that your interests are properly protected.
We also have extensive experience in dealing with disputes in this area of law. We can represent you in negotiations to try and resolve matters and where this is not possible, ensure you have a strong case for litigation.
We are proud to be acknowledged by the Law Society Lexcel accreditation, which recognises our commitment to providing top-quality practice management and client care, having also received the Customer Service Excellence award.