Alfred F Beckett Ltd v Lyons [1967] Ch 449, CA


The case involved a claim made by the plaintiff that as an inhabitant of the County Palatine of Durham, he had the right to take coal from the shore of the sea which was within the bounds of the county. The claim fell within the law of easements and the extent of public rights, with the plaintiff’s claim amounting to an argument that residents of the County Palatine of Durham had an easement over the shore which included the right to collecting things from the shore.


The issues in the case included what amounts to an easement and whether if there is no easement in the current case a limited public right for the residents of the County Palatine of Durham could be said to exist.


The court held first that there could be no easement in this case as there was no dominant tenement and this conflicts with the rules laid on it Re Ellenborough Park [1956] Ch 131. It was held that:

“… an essential element of any easement that it is annexed to land and that no person can possess an easement otherwise than in respect of and in amplification of his enjoyment of some estate or interest in a piece of land.” (Winn L.J.)

Further, it was held that there could be no public right for a limited number of locals to have access to the shore to the exclusion of others – if a right was vested in the public it would have to be in the public at large and not a local section of it.