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Thread: Possibly relevant legal case?

  1. #1
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    Default Possibly relevant legal case?

    Hi,
    I stumbled across mention of the 1904 'Godmanchester' case before the Lords while reading about the Great Ouse, here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/River_Great_Ouse
    citing this (Boyes & Russell 1977, pp. 149151). It appears to suggest that the House of Lords supported the right of a stockbroker Simpson to nail shut the gates of the navigation against the claims of the Bedfordshire and Huntingdonshire County Councils that the river was a public highway. I've not time to read up on all this, but wondered if it might hold any interest for some of our more committed researchers.
    (I note that Wikipedia may not be a very scholarly resource, but thought it might provide something to follow up; when I read sentences like 'the navigation was bought' presumably that alludes to the navigation rights, which can be bought and sold, as I presume a river itself cannot. Is that right?)
    Hope this helps.
    Ian

  2. #2
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    The case that this refers to is Simpson v the Attorney General (1904). The issue was whether the PRN on the River Ouse extended to the privately owned and constructed locks and whether the owner of the locks could be forced to maintain them.

    The decision of the House of Lords was that the River Ouse was a public navigation from ancient times but that the use of the locks was dependant on the payment of tolls authorised by Parliament. The ruling was
    "Held, by Lords Macnaghten, James, and Robertson (Lords Davey and Lindley dissenting upon the question of a highway through the locks), that there was no evidence that the locks had ever been dedicated to the public as a highway, and that the appellant was not bound to maintain or repair or allow the public to pass through the locks or the stanch."
    Since it was uneconomic to maintain the locks the ruling established that the owner, Simpson, was under no obligation to maintain the locks and allow passage at a financial loss and he was allowed to close the locks. Note that two of the five Law Lords disagreed and believed that the PRN extended to the locks but agreed that Simpson could not be obliged to maintain them at a loss.

    You can buy and sell a navigation company but not the public right of navigation. PRN can only be extinguished by Parliament, either directly through an Act or by an appropriate authority authorised to do so by an Act.

    Douglas Caffyn reported this case in http://www.caffynonrivers.co.uk/_res...after_1830.pdf see page 135
    Last edited by KeithD; 21st-April-2015 at 01:15 PM.
    Keith

  3. #3
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    Brilliant. Thank you, Keith.

  4. #4
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    Which is why when seeing any legal ruling you need to read a bit deeper to get true picture. As Keith has kindly done.
    http://www.davidwperry.blogspot.co.uk/

  5. #5
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    Agreed. And why it is nice to have an access section that brings interested and well-read people together. :-)
    Thanks again.

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