The Law Commission published its recommendations and draft Right to Light (Injunctions) Bill on 4 December 2014. The intention is to demystify the confusing mix of old statute and case law and to reduce the scope and length of disputes.
Key recommendations include:
- a new notice procedure by which a developer could require neighbouring landowners to inform them, within a certain time limit, whether they intend to seek an injunction to protect their rights to light against the proposed development. Where an injunction is not sought the right to do so will be lost;
- tests and circumstances laid out in statute to clarify when damages should be paid to a neighbouring land owner instead of halting development or demolishing a building; and
- an update to the procedure that allows landowners to prevent the acquisition of rights of light over their land by long use (prescription). The bill stops short of abolishing prescription as a means of acquiring rights to light.
The draft bill and the recommendations are welcomed as a learned and sincere attempt to solve the time consuming dilemma of balancing private rights against much needed development. There is of course no guarantee that these reforms will make it to legislation any time soon, if ever.