Land law

Land law (also known as property law) is the collective term which refers to people’s rights and obligations in regards to land, property and chattels. In the UK, land law has developed through case law and legislation for hundreds of years, with the result that it is often complex and difficult to follow.

If you are in a dispute, we will be able to help you.

Property rights

One complexity when dealing with land law is that often more than one person can own or have a right over a piece of land. These rights can be acquired in different ways:

  • Through an express grant
  • Through an easement
  • By prescription

These rights are very important, for example when you acquire a mortgage on a property you give the bank an interest in it. This interest will be recorded in the title register for the property.

Should anyone purchase the property without discharging the bank's interest (by paying off the remaining mortgage) they will remain subject to it, even though they didn’t take out the mortgage themselves. This is one reason why it is always advised to seek the advice of a solicitor.


In England and Wales the way you can buy and sell property will differ depending on whether the land is registered or unregistered. One big difficulty when dealing with unregistered property is that other people can have right-of-way over the land and as it is unregistered there may be no recorded evidence of this.

It will therefore be crucial to conduct the proper checks. This is because if someone holds such a right you will be unable to prevent them having access over the right-of-way even when you become the legal owner.

In England and Wales properties are categorised, and each different category allows the owner to use the property in a different way. If you are looking to use the property for a different use which isn’t currently permitted, a solicitor will be able to advise whether it will be possible and how to go about getting the category changed.

The complex nature of land law in England and Wales means that with almost any change in rights to land, or any dispute over rights to land, a solicitor will need to be instructed.

Property disputes

Common disputes arising from property laws focus on:

  • How the property has been obtained
  • How it can be passed to another person
  • How a right over property can be asserted

As a result such disputes may also involve elements of employment, inheritance or family law.

There are a number of different property laws relating to each type of estate, all of which carry certain complexities which may affect how you use your property, both for income and personal use.

If you have a dispute that arises out of a freehold or leasehold estate you may have to appear before a tribunal. This can be a daunting process to handle alone, and therefore specialist legal advice in real estate law would be advisable.

Similarly, if your dispute is over a copyright or a form of intellectual property then specialist lawyers in this field will be better-placed to deal with protecting your rights using the applicable property laws.

For answers to more of your questions, see our FAQ page on property law.

Do you have a legal issue involving an element of land law? Caven works with more than 400 law firms across the country and can recommend a specialist property solicitor to assist you with your land law issue. Please call us on 08001 221 2299 or complete the web-form above.