Under Common Law and the Highways Act 1980 it is possible for members of the public to claim that a track has been dedicated as a public right of way by the landowner by their failure to interrupt the use of it; this is called 'implied dedication'.
Whilst the landowner may be able to produce evidence that they have not dedicated the track by taking steps to prevent the general public from using it (by, for example, challenging users, erecting signs or only allowing use by specifically authorised people), it is often difficult to prove this at a later stage.
It is possible for landowners to protect themselves from future claims that a public path has come into being by implied dedication by making a deposit under Section 31 of the Highways Act 1980.
Lodging a deposit does not affect any right of way which may have been acquired through public use prior to the date of the deposit.
Changes to Legislation October 2013:
New legislation came into force on 1 October 2013 which made changes to the way in which landowners make deposits under Section 31(6) of the Highways Act 1980.
The changes include:
- The requirement for landowners to complete an application form instead of a statement and statutory Declaration
- The introduction of a reasonable fee for processing deposits. (fees for this process have not as yet been determined by the Council)
- The increase of the deposit renewal period from 10 to 20 years (for deposits submitted after 1 October 2013
To make a Landowner Deposit please read the guidance notes and then complete and return the application form opposite.
The Council keeps a register of all s.31(6) Highways Act Statements and s.31(6) Highways Act Declarations at our Cobalt Offices which can be inspected free of charge by appointment during normal office hours. An electronic version of that register can be viewed opposite.