Easement for water supply: Whether a property owner enjoyed a right to connect to a borehole water supply (Mullane v Davies and another - 2020)

Whether a property which received water from a borehole on a neighbouring property enjoyed a right to connect into that borehole.

Easement for water supply:  Whether a property owner enjoyed a right to connect to a borehole water supply (Mullane v Davies and another - 2020)

The background

Mullane v Davies and another [2020] concerned two adjacent agricultural properties. Water was supplied to one property through a borehole connection. The defendant interrupted the water supply to the claimant’s property by turning off the supply pipe, and the defendant also failed to repair the pipe when their workmen cut through it.

The claimant brought proceedings seeking a declaration of an easement, injunctive relief and damages. Although no express right in relation to the water supply had been granted, the claimant referred to s.62 of the Law of Property Act 1925 which stated that land would be transferred with all ‘liberties, privileges, easements, rights and advantages whatsoever, appertaining or reputed to appertain to the land at the time of the conveyance’. The County Court was to determine whether rights to the water supply were enjoyed by the property at the time of its transfer.   

The decision

The County Court found in favour of the claimant, deciding that at the time of the transfer of the property, it was supplied with water from the adjacent property’s borehole. This right to connect to the borehole passed with the transfer, and the defendant had substantially interfered with the right by turning off the water supply and refusing to reconnect it.

The Court made a declaration that the property was entitled to a supply of water from the defendant’s property and granted injunctive relief to ensure this supply was made. Damages were also awarded.

Advice and action 

A relatively straightforward case, the Court’s determination that the claimant’s property enjoyed a right to connect into the borehole on the adjoining property’s land is noteworthy.

Landlords and developers are advised to ensure they are fully aware of rights and easements enjoyed by a property on transfer and not to interfere with those rights, as they will follow with the transfer. Equally, parties receiving property with the benefit of rights and easements should continue to enjoy those rights following completion.

The County Court found in favour of the claimant, making a declaration that the property was entitled to a supply of water from the defendant’s property and granting an injunction to ensure this supply was made.

Author

Katie Edwards
Katie Edwards
Associate

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