What are Sporting Rights?

The short answer is - hunting, shooting and fishing.

It may be that you are buying land and have in mind its use for rural pursuits. Alternatively you may wish to ensure that no one else has the right to enter the land for these purposes. Either way it is important to determine the legal position in relation to the sporting rights when buying land in rural areas.

The starting point is that sporting rights exist as part of the land and are exercisable as such unless they are separated from it. They can be separated from it in a number of ways:

  • Where lease or licence arrangements are put in place, which can last from short periods to many years.
  • Where the rights are reserved out of the land by a seller on a sale. Generally the rights are specified in detail. Commonly, it may only be the shooting rights, hunting rights or fishing rights individually reserved depending upon what has value or what is of general interest to the seller for his or her own use or for onward sale.
  • Where rights have been established by a third party through long usage or by proving the existence of what is known as a profit a prendre - a right to take something from another's land. It is often more difficult to discover its existence of this type of right or to determine the detail and requires careful investigation.

Where sporting rights are separated from the land, generally they can be sold or passed on as an entity in themselves, separate from the land but giving the right to use the land for a specific sporting purpose.

Fishing rights can change hands for many hundreds of thousands of pounds. Shooting rights can be leased out over suitable tracts of land for worthwhile rental figures. In certain circumstances, the existence of hunting rights over land can have a downward impact upon its value. All in all, sporting rights do require careful consideration when dealing with rural property.

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