The law commission opened a consultation period for its review of the rights of light law. The Law Commission intend to review whether the law by which rights to light are acquired and enforced provides an appropriate balance between the important interests of landowners and the need to facilitate the appropriate development of land. It considers the interrelationship of rights to light with the planning system, and examines whether the remedies available to the courts are reasonable, sufficient and proportionate.
The law commission seek consultation responses on the following proposals:
- For the future it should no longer be possible to acquire rights to light by long use (known as “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.
- That the Lands Chamber of the Upper Tribunal should be able to extinguish rights to light that are obsolete or have no practical benefit, with payment of compensation in appropriate cases, as it can do under the present law in respect of restrictive covenants.