Secure your rights, secure your future
As has been highlighted frequently in the press over the last few months, the “cut off” date for registering Manorial Rights with the Land Registry came and went on the 13th October. But what happens now?
The first thing to point out is that the cut off date only applies to Manorial Rights, which are ancient in origin and originally created by Crown or superior lord grants. The deadline does not apply to freehold rights, which will be held by a significant number of mineral owners. Manors were self contained fiefdoms with their own customs and rights.
The second thing to consider is that these rights did not disappear in a puff of smoke on the 13th October. They still exist and can still be noted against registered land or cautioned against unregistered land, although there will now be a fee payable to the Land Registry. However, if the land to which the Manorial Rights relate is sold after 13th October 2013, then there is a real risk that the rights will be lost.
I would urge all potential rights owners to check their deeds, no matter how old, and secure all rights with the Land Registry. This includes Trustees who could expose themselves to significant liabilities if valuable rights are lost due to their inactivity. It must be remembered that rights may have a secondary, but significant, value. Mineral rights can be used to ransom, or block, valuable developments. Such value is often unknown and can occur in any location.
For example, 20 years ago nobody would have considered the enormous potential value of a wind farm development in a very remote location. However, the turbines require significant foundations, which may disturb the underlying mineral rights. This puts the owner of such rights in a very comfortable position. Funding for the development project is unlikely to be forthcoming without the confirmed consent of the owner of the mineral rights or indemnity insurance which may be unavailable or prohibitively expensive. Consent is best secured with a large sum of money! On the other hand, should the owner of those rights not be in favour of large turbines in the countryside, withholding consent should effectively block the development.
The same opportunity may occur with fracking. Within the next 10 years, it is possible that we may see considerable fracking activity across the North of England which will involve interfering with the underlying mineral rights. Owners will need to be on the ball as the process can involve drilling horizontally for a considerable distance and involves pumping liquid into underground shale rock. Mineral rights could well be disturbed a mile or more away from the well head.
But be warned, claiming rights over land owned by somebody else is a sensitive issue. However legally correct the claim may be, if claimed in a heavy handed manner more could be lost in terms of personal relationships than could be gained in the value of the rights. Lodging any claim should be done with due regard to the sensitivities involved.
In summary, there is still the opportunity to register Manorial Rights and I would urge everybody to do so, lest they miss out on future prosperity or expose themselves to a considerable liability.
For a free consultation regarding ownership of mineral rights or agricultural issues in general, contact agricultural law specialist Tom Wills at Sintons.