A recent case illustrates the point that even in disputes involving land, the behaviour of a landowner can be an important factor when it comes to the final decision of the court.
In it, the claimants (the Owers) went to court to obtain a ruling that their property had a right of way over a track of unknown ownership, which adjoined their property and was the only means of access to it. The track and another adjacent property had originally been part of the same property. When the Owers bought their property, the track was fenced off from the adjoining property. When that property was sold to a Mr Bailey, they allowed the fence to be removed so that he could move in. Subsequently, Mr Bailey claimed title to the land. He blocked the track repeatedly with his tractor and erected gates at the end of it, which he insisted remained shut. This state of affairs persisted for a period of four months before the court could rule on the matter and confirm the existence of the Owers’ right of way. Because Mr Bailey had acted in a spiteful and malicious way, aggravated damages were awarded to the Owers in the sum of £4,500. Damages for loss of amenity were assessed in the sum of £2,000.