Interpretation of expression ‘as of right’ in section 15 of the Commons Act, 2006

Supreme Court of United Kingdom: In an appeal concerning the issue as to whether ‘a field’ should be registered as a town or village green under Section 15 of the Commons Act 2006, which allows an application to register land as a town or village green where a significant number of inhabitants of the locality have “indulged as of right in lawful sports and pastimes on the land” for at least 20 years, a 5 judge bench held that the public’s use for more than 20 years of land maintained by the local authority with that authority’s knowledge was not “as of right” as the members of the public have a statutory right to use the land for recreational purposes. “.According interpretation to the term ‘as of right’ under Section 15 of the Act, the Court held that if a person uses privately owned land “of right” or “by right”, the use is rightful because it has been permitted by the landowner. However, if the use of such land is “as of right” means that the use is without the permission of the landowner. Accordingly, it was held that such use is not “of right” or “by right”, but is carried on as if it were by right, hence “as of right”. R v North Yorkshire County Council ,2014 UKSC 31 , decided on May 21, 2014

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