12 Months Left To Unravel Manorial Rights
On the 12th October 2012 there is exactly a year to go for “lords of the manor” to unravel and register their valuable manorial rights or they lose them forever.
Manorial rights in England and Wales must be protected by registration at the Land Registry by midnight on 12th October 2013, if they are to continue as legally binding rights.
The exact number of manorial rights in the country, their extent, and who they belong to, is currently in many cases unclear, but the registration date set by the Land Registration Act 2002 aims to reduce the uncertainty and clear up confusion.
Ownership of manorial rights has often caused much confusion because:
- Some landowners or parties are unaware they possess them;
- Tenants when purchasing the freehold interest of land, may have acquired the “manorial rights” from the original landowner or “lord of the manor” ;
- Manorial rights were often forfeited in the past when the relevant land became the subject of an enclosure award;
- Legislation in the 1920s separated manorial rights from ownership of land;
- “Lord of the manor” titles and manorial rights can now be bought at auction for thousands of pounds, causing bitter disputes over ownership of grass verges and village greens.
As a result, campaigners around the country, including some legal professionals and politicians, have claimed that manorial rights are anachronistic and ought to be abolished.
Currently, manorial rights can include miscellaneous land in and around villages and settlements as well as sporting and mineral rights.
Such rights can be very lucrative as they may include: sporting rights over grouse moors; rights to large mineral reserves; or rights exercisable over large estates.
In some cases manorial rights have a value over and above their prima facie value where those rights may obstruct a development on the surface of the land.
In the past such assets have been recorded by way of deeds and records. However after 12th October 2013, if such rights are not protected by way of registration at the Land Registry, then when the title to the land over which the manorial rights are exercisable changes, that change in land ownership will be free of the manorial rights.
Jonathan Wallis, Chartered Surveyor with George F White says: “Manorial rights can be a valuable asset and protection is important. However, in order to register manorial rights with the Land Registry, clarification needs to be sought on ownership of those rights and also on the extent of the land over which the rights are exercisable. This may involve reviewing deeds, records and archives which can be both time-consuming and costly, particularly in cases of large estates. It is therefore important to consider the value of the potential rights against the cost of investigating the rights.”
On most land owners there is no obligation to investigate ownership of manorial rights; however the position is very different with Trustees and Life Tenants under a Settled Land Act Trust who have a legal obligation to protect the assets of the Trust.
Jonathan Wallis says: “We would advise that any Trustee, Life Tenant or charitable organisation takes appropriate advice on establishing any manorial rights they hold, together with their value in advance of the changes in the law on 12th October 2013.”
George F White is able to provide full advice on establishing the existence of ownership of manorial rights, the extent of that ownership and the potential value.