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  1. #1

    Shooting Rights??

    Hi im needing some advice. I currently own some land which i run my business from. For the last 5years since i moved here, there has been a local shoot which claimed to have the shooting rights. At the time everything was very amicable but over the past 2years there has been occasions which i have had to approach the shoot due to it affecting my business. I have asked them several times for proof they have the shooting rights but each time i am told "never" and that i can do nothing about it other than call the police saying i have armed intruders on my land which to be honest i do not want to do. I have tried to be reasonable and if shown the rights will happily let them carry on but put in place some rules so that each of us is happy but nothing that can affect my current business which is also my livelyhood. I would be grateful if anybody has come across this before and if so is there anywhere i can find for myself proof that they have the rights or not??? Much appreciated

  2. #2

    Re: Shooting Rights??

    Ouch !

    You are being lied to. Permission can be withdrawn at any time by the landowner. No landowner would would sign away perpetual access to their land. Before you get heavy check for any deed covenants or company documents, if you are Limited, just to be sure. You aren't bound by any 3rd party contract.

    Put signs up forbidding access and shooting. Then wait for them, with plenty of company , and photo them on your land and their cars & reg's.

    Then withdraw to safety, call the police, tell them armed men are occupying your land and you are afraid. People this aggressive are a risk to you. You could go legal but do you really want to spend 5 grand sorting this?

  3. #3

    Re: Shooting Rights??

    Hi mrsconfused,

    Firstly, it's probably worthwhile outlining the status of sporting rights I assume you are in England and Wales (the situation in Scotland differs very slightly in that the right to kill game normally lies with the landowner or the land's tenant).

    The right to kill wild animals and birds in England and Wales lies with the occupier of land unless the landowner has specifically reserved the sporting rights for himself.

    Additionally, whoever holds the sporting rights may exercise them himself, lease them or give oral permission to somebody to exercise the rights. A lease of shooting rights should always be in writing and ideally drawn up by a solicitor. (Your shoot should be able to show you a copy of their lease).

    I hate to contradict the post above, but it is in fact possible for shooting rights to be held separately by a third party and not the current landowner or tenant. While most syndicate shoots lease shooting rights annually from the landowner, there are many instances where the sporting rights have been sold on or retained by a previous landowner in perpetuity. This could well be the case in your circumstance. A typical example would be in the case of wildfowling clubs, some of whom buy freehold land with sporting rights, then sell the land on, retaining the sporting rights for the club's use.

    Inquiries with the Land Registry or perhaps the deeds to the land should clarify the ownership of sporting rights.

    In your case, the shoot should be able to prove their right to shoot on your land. If you can prove definitively that the sporting rights are retained with your land and you are the landowner and occupier, without your permission they have no right to shoot on your land.

    I would state that I'm not a solicitor, mine is not legal advice, and I would recommend you contact a specialist if this problem cannot be resolved amicably.

    Even if you are not a keen shooter, I would strongly urge you to join either the Country Land and Business Association or the British Association for Shooting and Conservation in order to take advantage of the specialist advice which they offer members it could be a sound investment in the long run.

    I hope you resolve your problem. I realise there are two sides to every story, but if what you say is true it sounds to me as if your local shoot needs to be brought into line. If they really hold the shooting rights, they should be very happy to prove it.

    Yours, Alastair.
    Alastair Balmain, Editor, Shooting Times

  4. #4

    Re: Shooting Rights??

    Indeed Alastair you are clearly not a solicitor and neither am I. Moreover you have misunderstood my post.
    Barring a convenant granting shooting permission as an obligation of the land ownership the original poster is NOT subject to any civil contract made by a previous owner.

    Therefore any dispute would be a civil case between those claiming rights and some 3rd party apparently in default of providing shooting grounds.

    I also cannot support your advice to "go legal" costing the OP literally thousands. No expert can manoeuvre around a covenant and if there isn't one they aren't needed.
    If the shooters are unsavoury types would they respect a court order if they lost anyway?

    I must reiterate my original advice which is check for a covenant as step one. This should have been fully disclosed at the land transfer 5 years previously or else someone is liable. If none exists then take the easy route. If one does then the best that can be achieved is to enforce its terms.

  5. #5
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    Re: Shooting Rights??

    This is a sticky issue indeed.

    The issue of whether the shooters have the rights aside, I wouldn't have thought they would have the right to interfere with the land owners right to enjoyment of his property or earn an income. The latter is certainly grounds for a civil case.

    Going legal can be an expensive excercise but I would point out that the conveyancing in the original purchase would normally have been carried out by a solicitor who SHOULD have made the buyer aware of any existing covenants on the property e.g. residential tenancies, so there may be grounds for some recourse there.

    Either way, I wish you the best of luck!

  6. #6

    Re: Shooting Rights??

    Hello mrconfused and everyone.

    I am a solicitor and specialise in this area of law. Hope I can help.

    Alastair is quite right: shooting rights (and all other sporting rights) can be owned in perpetuity and separately from ownership of the soil itself. They are a species of interest in land called "profits".

    Typically rights to shoot are separated from the soil in one of 4 ways:

    1) By "severence". Here the owner of the freehold sells the shooting rights separately from the soil (or on a sale of the soil, reserves the right to shoot for himself). In principle, these rights can exist separately from the land for ever. The rights can be bought and sold separately from the land.

    2) By lease. The freehold owner can grant a tenancy of the shooting rights (with or without the land itself). This may be for a fixed term (eg 5 years) or on a rolling basis. Usually rent is paid.

    3) By "exception" from a lease. Here the freeholder grants a lease of the land, but "excepts and reserves" the shooting rights to himself. He can subsequently deal with the shooting rights as he wishes, or exercise them himself.

    4) By adverse possession ("squatter's rights"). This is pretty rare.

    All of this is subject to the Ground Game Acts, which give a statutary inalienable right to the occupant of the land to shoot rabbit and hare.

    Subject in some cases to registration of the rights at the land registry the owner of the shooting rights can continue to exercise them against future owners of the land. Exactly when registration is required to protect rights on a sale depends on when the rights were first created. (Incidently, the law will change in 2012 so that these rules no longer apply, so if you own shooting rights separated from the soil, get them registered now.)

    In addition,the owner of the shooting rights may grant a licence (ie permission) to a person to shoot. This is personal to the parties, and does not bind a future buyer of the rights.

    So going back to mrconfused's situation, it may be that the shooters do own the rights. However, they have refused to demonstrate to mrconfused that they have a right to shoot over the land. If they cannot demonstrate their ownership of the rights in one of the 4 ways above or by licence, they are tresspassing.

    If the shooters do own the shooting rights all may not be lost. If the rights are held by lease, there may be a covenant in the lease by which the shooters agree not to cause a nuisance to the landowner, or agree to limit the times they shoot.

    If there is no such covenant, then mrconfused's position is more difficult, because the shooters own the shooting rights and are entitled to exercise them notwithstanding the possible damage to his business. If the use is not reasonable, however, there is a nuisance that can be prevented. In a case called Allen v Flood the court held that "no owner of land [including shooting rights] has an absolute right to create noises because any right must be qualified by the condition it must not be exercised to the nuisance of his neighbours." I think that principle could be applied here. However, everything depends on whether the legitimate shooting is reasonable.

    If the shooters are malicious, shooting with the aim of disturbing mrconfused's business the position might well be different. In a case called Hollywood Silver Fox Farm Ltd v Emmett, Silver Fox carried on the business of breeding silver foxes on its land. Emmett an adjoining landowner, maliciously caused his son to discharge guns on his own land as near as possible to the breeding pens for the purpose of injuring Silver Fox by by interfering with the breeding of the foxes. Silver Fox won the case.

    Lastly if the shooters do own the shooting rights mr confused might contact his local council, asking them to exercise their powers udner the Environmental Protection Act 1990 to prevent so called "statutory nuisance". This has the advantage of being the cheapest solution, but will not work if the shooting is reasonable. In any event the council may decline to exercise its powers. One other problem is that mrconfused does not actually establish who owns what, which may cause difficulty on a sale of the land in the future.

    I do not recommend "self help". (You could block access to the land but that lays you open to action if the shooters do in fact own the rights and generally the courts are not sympathetic.)

    So to sum up:

    The shooters should be "put to proof" of their pownership of the rights. If they cannot demonstrate ownership, but continue to shoot I am afraid the only safe way of preventing the noise is an expensive trip to lawyers and possibly to court.

    If the shooters can show ownership of the rights, them you will have to consider either private nuisance or statutory nuisance.

    Alternatively you could just pursue the statutory nuisance option with the council.

    Milligan makes the good point that if there are rights they should have become clear on your purchase. You may be able to sue the sellers of the land if they knew about the rights but did not disclose them, or you may be able to sue the solicitors who acted for you if they should have discovered the right, but didn't. If this is an option, you may have to move fast: your claim against the seller will lapse 6 years from the date of the contract; and if the 6 year date is passed it becomes harder successfully to sue your solicitor.

    All of this is general advice: I don't know the details of the situation of course, and the details may make the above advice wrong, or not the best course of action. Take advice from someone who can take full details from you before engaging with the shooters.

    LB

  7. #7

    Re: Shooting Rights??

    Hi,
    I live in a small community of nine houses and collectively we own the surrounding 6 and a half acres, which we maintain through a management committee. The farmer who sold the land to the developers retained the shooting rights, and he organises about five shoots a year. He does not negotiate with us about these dates - in fact, he pushes a note through each door telling people when the shoots will take place and to stay indoors. On more than one occasion the shooting party has come close to our houses and we have had cartidges landing in our gardens and on people's heads. We do not believe the farmer's right to shoot on our land over-rides our right to enjoy our property whenever we choose. Where do we stand on this?

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