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Union Lighterage Co. v London Graving Dock Co. [1902] 2 Ch 557; 71 LJ Ch 791; [1900-3] All ER Rep 234; 87 LT 381, 18 TLR 754

EASEMENT, EASEMENT OF NECESSITY, EASEMENT OF SUPPORT, IMPLIED RESERVATION, CLAIM ENJOYMENT OF PROPERTY,

SEVERANCE OF TENEMENTS HELD BY COMMON OWNERS

Facts

A dock and a wharf, divided by a fence, belonged to the same owner in 1860. In the same year, in order to secure the side of the dock, the owner carried several tie-ropes under the ground beneath the fence and the surface of the wharf for a distance of 15.5 feet to the west of the fence. In 1877, the wharf was conveyed to the plaintiffs by the owners, without any reservation of the right of support for the dock. In 1886, the owners conveyed the dock to the defendant’s predecessors in title. In 1900, the plaintiffs discovered the tie-ropes for the first time, whilst making some excavations in the wharf.

Issues

(1) Was the easement of support one of necessity and therefore, could a reservation of it be implied?

(2) Have the defendants acquired an easement of support by length of enjoyment?

Held

The decision was in favour of the plaintiffs – it was held that they are entitled to remove the tie-ropes.

(1) An easement of necessity is one without which a property retained upon severance cannot be used at all, not one which is necessary to the reasonable enjoyment of the property.

(2) When the wharf was conveyed to the plaintiffs, there was no implied reservation of a right to support the dock and the tie-rods did not remain vested in the grantors as part of or appurtenant to the dock.

(3) The easement of support was not one of necessity and thus, a reservation of a right to support could not be implied.

(4) As the enjoyment of the dock was claimed, the owners of the dock did not acquire an easement of support by length of enjoyment.


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