ACT NOW TO PRESERVE YOUR COMMONS RIGHTS.

THE ISSUE

The Commons Act 2006 has the potential to affect ALL those who own commons rights and, if not acted upon, may result in those who currently own common rights, losing those rights if the Commons Register has not been accurately updated to record transactions between registration of rights in 1965/1970 and the 1st June 2005 when the no severance rule under the Commons Act 2006 came into force.

If such transactions are not registered within the “transitional period” then the commons rights set out in Column 3 belong to the owners of the land set out in Column 5 irrespective of what happened between 1965 and 2005. 

THE TIME FRAME

The Act provides for a “transitional period” to register previously unregistered transactions between 1965 and 2005.

The “transitional period” we are told is to begin in October 2014 and will last for 2 years, or perhaps a little longer, during which all commons registers should be updated to reflect the current position.  It is however, easier to correct any inaccuracies in the Register prior to the beginning of the transitional period.

WHOSE JOB IS IT TO RECORD PREVIOUS TRANSACTIONS?

Yours. Look after your own rights.

ADVICE AND IMMEDIATE ACTION

CHECK THE REGISTER AND ENSURE THAT YOU OWN ALL THE FIELDS IN COLUMN 5 OF EACH OF THE REGISTER ENTRIES UNDER WHICH YOU CLAIM TO OWN RIGHTS. If you don’t you could well lose rights. If you do and you find you don’t own all the land in column 5, and you don’t do anything about it, you certainly will lose rights.

REMEMBER – when the transitional period ends the rights attached to the land will belong to the owner(s) of the land set out in Column 5, NOT the person named in Column 3.

WHY MAY THE REGISTER NOT BE A TRUE RECORD?

There are many reasons why, despite your acquiring land with commons rights attached, the Register may be inaccurate and those rights may be lost. Please see the Example below.

HELP AND ADVICE For further advice speak to Viv Lewis, Administrator of the Federation of Cumbria Commoners.   If you need help sorting out amendments to your register entries you can obtain it from a solicitor or land agent, or from Tim Cartmell and Rachel Bauer (advisors in all commons matters), whose contact details can be obtained from Viv Lewis. 

Example :

Farmer A registered 300 rights to 80 acres in 1970 (3.75 rights to the acre).  In 1990 he retired and sold his 80 acres in 4 lots.  He sold all the rights to Farmer B with Lot 1 which was 30 acres.  The other lots totalling 50 acres were stated not to have rights with them.  The register has not been altered, and still shows all the 80 acres in column 5.  Farmer B claims and uses for his Commons Association and single farm payment purposes the 300 rights, and there is no problem at present, because there is no present requirement to alter the register, and there never has been since 1970.

If Farmer B does nothing - when the transitional period ends he will lose 187 of his 300 rights (50 acres x 3.75 rights per acre = 187 rights). They will in law belong again to the owner(s) of the land in column 5.

What must Farmer B do ? He must register the 1990 transaction. He will need copies of the deeds entered into at the time. He will then find himself the owner of 113 rights attached to his own 30 acres shown in column 5 under a new register entry, and 187 rights which he may be shown as owning in gross under a second new entry, (detached from the land to which they formerly attached in 1990). 

Does he have to wait until the transitional period starts? No.  The sooner he does it the better, because the rules prior to the transitional period coming into force are more relaxed about the evidence required to amend the Register.