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Prior to 13 October 2013, manorial rights were “overriding rights” which could affect a property even if they had not previously been protected in the register maintained by the Land Registry. Activities which may be provided for by manorial rights include rights to mine and extract minerals (with or without the consent of the current surface land owner), rights to hunt, shoot or fish.

Historically, landowners with significant holdings often retained ownership of any mines or minerals on the land even when it was sold on. In this case they would own the land beneath the surface (known as ‘mines and minerals’) while another party owned the surface land. Landowners may also have certain rights relating to the surface of the land, for example, fishing rights. Manorial rights were specifically preserved when most remnants of the manorial system were abolished in 1926.

Following the enactment of the Land Registration Act 2002, which required manorial rights to be registered before 13 October 2013 if they were to be retained, around 73,000 applications to enter a notice claiming manorial rights on properties in England and Wales were made to the Land Registry prior to the deadline.

In January 2015, the Justice Select Committee published a report into manorial rights. This was in response to a large number of representations received calling for the abolition of these rights. The Committee highlighted concerns with the implementation of the 2002 Act, recommended changes for more efficient operation in future, and examined arguments for and against the abolition of the protection of manorial rights in law.

In July 2018, the Law Commission published a report on updating the Land Registration Act 2002. In particular, it recommended reform of the procedure around unilateral notices, which, since October 2013, have been used by beneficiaries of manorial rights to protect their interests. This would be achieved by amending the 2002 Act.

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