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protecting manorial rights

19 March 2013

Landowners and lords of the manor are at risk of losing valuable rights if they are not registered by 13 October this year. Trustees should consider registering the rights now to avoid possible claims for breaching trustee duties.

Manorial rights & value

Manorial rights include:

  • rights to mines and minerals (sand, gravel, stone, clay)
  • sporting rights (hunting, fishing, shooting)
  • rights to hold a fair or market

Manorial rights (and minerals in particular) are potentially extremely valuable - if not now, then perhaps in 50 years time. Minerals can provide a valuable ransom on surface development as developers are keen to have clean title to their land, or the rights may create interesting opportunities for working in the future.

The history

Years ago, the lord of the manor may have granted rights to tenants of parts of his land in return for particular services. These were called copyhold tenancies. On 1 January 1926 many copyhold tenancies in the country were enfranchised (converted from copyhold tenancies to freehold land). However, manorial rights were excluded from this process and were retained by the lord of manor.

Establishing whether manorial rights exist

To establish that a manorial right exists, it will be necessary to show:

  • evidence that the land in question was formerly copyhold of the manor in question
  • evidence that it was the custom of the manor in question that the lord had the rights claimed
  • evidence that the rights in question survived enfranchisement
  • evidence of title to the particular manorial rights claimed

The issue & implications for trustees

After 13 October 2013 manorial rights will continue to exist, but they will lose the protection of their current overriding status. This means that a person who buys the land after this date will take the land free from any manorial rights unless they have been protected by registration prior to the sale.

Due to the potential value of manorial rights, trustees should consider whether they have any which should be registered to comply with their trustee duties to preserve trust property. If the rights are not registered, trustees risk claims being brought against them by beneficiaries for failure to preserve trust property.

How can we help?

Browne Jacobson can assist with the whole process. We can carry out any necessary research into the ownership and extent of the manor as well as determining whether manorial rights exist. We can also make all of the necessary Land Registry applications, which will vary depending on whether the land in question is registered or unregistered.

Unregistered land?

We will apply to protect the manorial rights by registering a caution against first registration. This entitles the owner of the manorial right to be notified when there is an application for first registration of the land in question, so that they can protect their right on registration.

Registered land?

We will apply to protect the manorial rights by entering a notice on the title register to the land. Any subsequent purchasers of the land will have notice of the interest and will take the land subject to it. The registered landowner will be notified of the application to enter a notice and may object; therefore this process could take some time.

Due to the length of time that these applications might take, it is important to submit applications to the Land Registry as soon as possible to ensure you beat the 13 October deadline.

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The content on this page is provided for the purposes of general interest and information. It contains only brief summaries of aspects of the subject matter and does not provide comprehensive statements of the law. It does not constitute legal advice and does not provide a substitute for it.

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