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Long v Gowlett [1923] 2 Ch 177

Law of Property - Easement - Right of Way - Estoppel through Common Owner

Facts:

Long owned a watermill and land which was on both sides of a river. Gowlett owned land on both sides of the river a little further up from Long. Long brought action against Gowlett for obstructing his access to parts of his land along the river bank. Long’s purpose of access was to repair the bank and cut weeds. He claimed to have a prescriptive right to an easement to pass along both banks of the river for these purposes.

Issues:

To what extent should an estoppel created by a former action be allowed or disallowed? Whether there was an implied easement.

Held:

The claim was dismissed, holding that Gowlett’s failure in the action amounted to an estoppel to prevent him from setting up subsequent proceedings brought by the owner’s successor in title for the same purpose. An estoppel, both in the circumstances and generally, was held to operate in respect of the whole right claimed and not just for the particular relief unsuccessfully sought. An implied easement could not be assumed. Section 6(2) of the Conveyancing Act 1881 (the Act) only applied when there had been a severance of a reciprocal enjoyment of the right of ownership and occupation of land by the occupiers. There could be no implied easement in this case. Broomfield v Williamswas distinguished on the facts as it involved an easement of light, the grantor was not permitted to deter from his grant by building on the retained land and thus, sufficient reasons to support the decision.


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