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Couple Pay Price of Fishing Rights Debacle

PLEASE NOTE: Information in this article is correct at the time of publication, please contact DFA Law for current advice on older articles.

An unwise decision taken in the heat of the moment which led to a land dispute is set to have permanent and costly consequences for a couple. They face a substantial legal costs bill after unsuccessfully resisting a neighbour’s application to register fishing rights over their land.

The neighbour had sought registration of the rights pursuant to the terms of a 1941 conveyance. The couple initially objected on the ground that the relevant rights had been abandoned and no longer subsisted. However, shortly before the dispute was to be heard by a Land Registry adjudicator, the couple signed a consent order, withdrawing their objection. The couple said that they had decided to withdraw from the case because it was affecting their health.

Despite that order, the couple subsequently placed substantial fresh evidence before the Land Registry, which refused to register the fishing rights on the basis that the new material cast doubt on the neighbour’s title to the same. In the light of that decision, the matter was relisted before an adjudicator.

The couple argued that they had signed the consent order on an uninformed basis, following defective advice. However, in declining jurisdiction to hear the matter, the adjudicator found that the consent order was substantive and binding and could only be challenged via an appeal to the High Court.

The couple were ordered to pay their neighbour’s legal costs, which he estimated were more than £26,000. However, the exact sum of their liability will be subject to a detailed assessment.

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