In this case, the High Court considered whether gates could amount to a substantial interference with a right of way and the difference between gates operated by a key or fob and those opened by pushing a button.
In 2012, Mr and Mrs Jordan bought a property in Buckinghamshire called Ferndown. It was next to Kingsgate Farm owned by the claimant company. It was accepted by the parties that Kingsgate had the benefit of a right of way over a track on the Jordans’ land granted by a 1960 conveyance. There was originally no gate across this track. By the time the Jordans purchased the property, there were two gates across the track and the couple added a third gate.
Kingsgate claimed that their easement had been substantially reduced or interfered with by the presence of these gates so that the right of way was not fit for its intended use.
The Court decided that gate 1, which was unlocked and easily opened by the push of a button, did not amount to a substantial interference with the right of way. The same was said of gate 3, which was also kept unlocked and separated the farmland from the domestic property.
In contrast, the existence of gate 2 meant that were three gates less than 100 metres apart. It was this proximity of the gates that led the Judge to conclude that there was a substantial interference with the right of way. The Jordans were ordered to remove gate 2 and pay some nominal damages. The Court also distinguished between electric gates that needed the entry of a code or the use of a fob to be opened with those that just needed a push of a button. The latter, being easier to operate, were less likely to amount to a substantial interference with a right of way.