Chwilio Deddfwriaeth

Countryside and Rights of Way Act 2000

Sections 12 to 14: Rights and liabilities of owners and occupiers

28.Section 12 provides that the right of access does not increase the liability of a person interested in the land in respect of the state of the land or things done on it. It also provides that persons interested in the land will not be liable for the breach of any covenant restricting the use of the land, and that the statutory right takes precedence over the covenant. Under subsections (3) and (4), use of any path or area of land in exercise of the right of access cannot support a claim for the existence of a right of way or of a town or village green.

29.Section 13 amends the Occupiers’ Liability Act 1957 so as to reduce the liability of occupiers of land owed to those exercising the right of access to the same level which would be owed to trespassers, but further provides (by amending the Occupiers’ Liability Act 1984) that, at any time when the right is exercisable, occupiers of access land will owe no liability to those exercising the right of access, nor to trespassers, in respect of risks arising from: natural features of the landscape; any river, stream, ditch or pond; and the passage of any person across a wall, fence or gate (except by proper use of a gate or stile). “Natural features” are defined so as to include any plant, shrub or tree. Liability is not excluded in any of these circumstances if the risk arises from anything done intentionally or recklessly by the occupier. Subsection (3) provides that the courts, in determining whether any liability is owed to non-visitors on access land, must have regard to certain additional considerations.

30.Section 14 introduces a new offence of displaying a notice containing false or misleading information on or near access land (or a way leading to it) likely to deter the exercise of the statutory right. The offence is similar to an existing offence relating to rights of way (section 57 of the National Parks and Access to the Countryside Act 1949). The offence would apply, for example, to notices forbidding access to access land, or purporting to indicate that access land is closed when it is not, and would attract a fine on conviction of up to level 1 on the standard scale (currently £200). The courts may order that an offender should remove the notice, and a further offence — attracting a penalty of level 3 (currently £1,000) on the standard scale — is committed if the offender does not comply with the order.

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