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Law Commission Consultation on Rights to Light

February 20, 2013

A right to light is an easement.  A right to light prevents someone with an interest in the servient land from substantially interfering with the access of light on the dominant land, for example by erecting or altering a building on the servient land, which would obstruct the light.

The Law Commission wants to introduce greater certainty and transparency into the law, ensure that rights to light do not act as an unnecessary constraint on development and make sure that the important amenity value of rights to light remains are protected.

The Law Commission makes the following provisional proposals:

It should no longer be possible to acquire rights to light by prescription.

The introduction of a new statutory test, to clarify the current law on when courts may order a person to pay damages instead of ordering that person to demolish or stop constructing a building that interferes with a right to light.

The introduction of a new statutory notice procedure, which requires those with the benefit of rights to light to make clear whether they intend to apply to the court for an injunction (ordering a neighbouring landowner not to build in a way that infringes their right to light), with the aim of introducing greater certainty into rights to light disputes.

The Lands Chamber of the Upper Tribunal should be able to extinguish rights to light that are obsolete or have no practical benefit.

The consultation closes on 16 May 2013.