Walsh & Cassidy v Sligo County Council

JurisdictionIreland
CourtHigh Court
JudgeMr. Justice McMahon
Judgment Date20 December 2010
Neutral Citation[2010] IEHC 437
Date20 December 2010

[2010] IEHC 437

THE HIGH COURT

[No. 262 P./2009]
Walsh & Cassidy v Sligo County Council

BETWEEN

EDWARD WALSH AND CONSTANCE CASSIDY
PLAINTIFFS

AND

SLIGO COUNTY COUNCIL
DEFENDANT

IRISH LAND ACT 1903

CONNELL v PORTER 2005 3 IR 601

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LAND

Easements

Public rights of way - Dedication - Ingredients necessary to establish public right of way - Whether public right of way - Inferred historical dedication - Whether dedication presumed - Whether evidence of dedication by landowner - User - Evidence as to user by members of public - Whether user as of right - Applicable legal principles - Presumption or inference of dedication - Permission - Acquiescence - Obstructions - Acts of interruption - Admissions - Whether acquiescence of predecessors bound owner in fee - Capacity to dedicate land - Whether there could be dedication when the estate is held in fee tail - Nature and extent of right of way - Farquhar v Newbury Rural District Council [1909] 1 Ch 12, Folkestone Corporation v Brockman [1914] AC 338 and Williams-Ellis v Cobb [1935] 1 KB 310 considered - R (Godmanchester TC) v Environment Secretary [2007] UKHL 28, [2008] 1 AC 221 approved - Plaintiff's claim dismissed (2009/262P - McMahon J - 20/12/2010) [2010] IEHC 437

Walsh v Sligo County Council

Facts: The proceedings related to a disputed public right of way. The plaintiffs bought Lissadell House in 2003 from the last of the Gore-Booth family and they locked the gates to the Main Avenue. The issue arose as to the evidence of public use, their creation by statute or dedication, whether the Court could conclude that on the balance of probability the owner dedicated the rights to the public, which the public accepted or that a local custom existed from time immemorial. The Court also considered the presumption or inference of dedication and how a protestor could rebut it.

Held by McMahon J. that the Court would dismiss the claim of the plaintiff and make a declaration that the roadways on the map annexed to the judgment of the Court were subject to rights of way in favour of the public. It was clear that the plaintiffs were attempting to do work that was commendable and aesthetically sensitive and of benefit to the whole area of Sligo. Evidence of long user "as of right" created a public right of way except in truly exceptional cases. When the law inferred dedication from long users it was consciously engaging in a fiction, but this was the current state of the law.

Reporter: E.F.

WALSH & CASSIDY v SLIGO COUNTY COUNCIL
Judgment Index

I.

General Introduction and the Defendant's Claim

Paragraph 1

II.

History of Lissadell

Paragraph 8

III.

The Recent Facts

Paragraph 12

Lissadell Action Group 1

Paragraph 17

IV.

The Plaintiffs' Opening

Paragraph 21

V.

The Law on Public Rights of Way

Paragraph 28

VI.

The Legal Principles Applicable

Paragraph 31

VII.

The Evidence Relied Upon by the Defendant from which Dedication is Inferred

Paragraph 32

(i)

User: The Law

Paragraph 32

(ii)

The Presumption/Inference of Dedication

Paragraph 37

(iii)

The Belief Test

Paragraph 43

(iv)

Burden on the Protestor

Paragraph 44

VIII.

Evidence as to User

Paragraph 50

(i)

Ius Spatiendi

Paragraph 51

(ii)

The Defendant's Evidence Relating to User

Paragraph 56

(iii)

The Plaintiffs' Evidence as to User

Paragraph 63

(iv)

Conclusions on User

Paragraph 80

IX.

Permission?

Paragraph 86

X.

Acquiescence?

Paragraph 108

(i)

Gates and Other Obstacles

Paragraph 111

(ii)

Notices

Paragraph 125

(iii)

Removal of Obstructions

Paragraph 135

(a)

1993 - Rubble at Forge

Paragraph 136

(b)

2002/03 - Removal of Tree by Sir Josslyn

Paragraph 138

(iv)

Admissibility of Statements of the Present Sir Josslyn

Paragraph 143

XI.

Exceptions to the Hearsay Rule

Paragraph 151

XII.

Inclusion in Sligo Development Plan 1967

Paragraph 168

The County Development Plans

Paragraph 168

XIII.

Expenditure of Public Monies on Estate Roadways

Paragraph 183

(i)

General Liability for the Maintenance of Highways at Common Law

Paragraph 183

(ii)

Presentments of Grand Jury: Presentments 1813 - 1896

Paragraph 190

(iii)

The...

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