Rising Concern Over Property Prices, Concerns Over Rights of Way and Changes in the Law Opens Door for New Highway Law Services Business

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A perfect storm is brewing in the UK that has many property owners looking for independent advice. With changes in the law putting a deadline on ‘The definitive Map and Statement’, property owners looking to maximise and secure the value of their investments and solving local conflicts, an opportunity has arisen for expert firms specialising in highway law to blossom. We spoke to one such firm that was launched in the UK late last year and already they say, the value of such a service is becoming evident.

Expert Highway Law Services

Expert Highway Law Services

There seemed to be a gap in the market for people and organisations who require some assistance with the basics of highway law which, for many, is so complicated that they give up before they begin.

Jenny Trevor, founder and managing director of Highway Law Services Ltd set up the business after working for a large engineering organisation where she had been employed for many years dealing exactly with the situations she now finds herself handling. Prior to this, she was employed on the other side of the fence having worked for a local authority for many years. The complexity of the cases ensures there is a business to support her team. “There seemed to be a gap in the market for people and organisations who require some assistance with the basics of highway law which, for many, is so complicated that they give up before they begin”.

Highway law is easy to say but it’s a very extensive field of law. In order to advise properly, practitioners need significant breadth of knowledge. Highway Law Services certainly has the experience and can also boast flagship accreditations. Mrs Trevor, who is a registered expert with The UK Register of Expert Witnesses and on the Sweet and Maxwell Legal Hub Directory of Expert Witnesses, specialises in all aspects of highway law from the maintenance of motorways to the management of public footpaths, from traffic regulation orders to the re-instatement of highways resulting from public utility works or from the implementation of cycle tracks to responsibility where road accidents have occurred. Pier recognition is important as it can help cases move when the other side notice a formidable opponent.

Since starting the company, her and her team have dealt with many private individuals who encounter problems relating to various aspects of public rights of way, in particular,(i.e. footpaths, bridleways, byways, restricted byways) but find resolving these problems to be complicated and, in many cases, a bureaucratic nightmare. Highway Law Services are able, through their experience, to get to the heart of the matter, understand the issues and deal with them quickly and professionally. Not always easy but Jenny says of this element of work ‘I am very honest with my clients. If, after examining the documentation and sometimes communicating with the council officer/s, I don’t feel my client has a case, I tell them. Sometimes it is not what they want to hear – but I don’t believe in them wasting their money if their case is so weak they have very little – to no – chance of being successful – having worked on both sides of the fence (so to say) I have a reasonably good idea of where both parties are coming from and this helps’.

Expert witness work is another area of highway law that is in high demand. With large estates and valuable property often under dispute, involving an expert witness is often the most cost effective course of action. Highway Law Services has been involved with a number of cases ranging from public inquiry hearings dealing with the conversion of footpaths into cycle tracks, public rights of way modification and public path orders, to court cases involving the legality of speeding fines from a safety camera through temporary road works, status, boundary and obstruction disputes and the re-instatement of highways resulting from public utility works.

Currently, the most common problems seem to involve public rights of way and highway status and/or boundary disputes. Interestingly enough, Jenny Trevor tells us that in 2000 an Act was passed which significantly changes public rights of way law in a number of ways. Most importantly, it introduces a cut-off date of 1st January 2026 for adding to the Definitive Map and Statement any unrecorded footpaths, bridleways, byways or restricted byways which have not been brought to the attention of the highway authority. As there are many historic highways up and down the country that have, through time been lost, there is an immense amount of work going on to research these ways and get claims registered before the cut-off date. This will change the long established maxim laid down in the case of Dawes v Hawkins in 1860: ‘…once a highway always a highway; for the public cannot release their rights and there is no extinctive presumption or prescription’.

Highway Law Services seems to have their work cut out. The Highways Act, now 30 years old, all the Acts that govern public rights of way going back nearly 70 years, and much of the legislation dating back to the beginning of the 19th century means 200 years of legislation and common law needs to be interpreted and understood in order to resolve the most minor of problems, never mind the much larger issues that land on Mrs Trevor’s desk.

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Jenny Trevor
Highway Law Services
+44 (0) 207 193 2053
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