Such signs dot the landscape but are they effective legally? In legal terms, the question is do such signs stop a third party gaining rights through prescription over an owners’ land through long usage?
In this case, the customers and suppliers of a fish and chip shop in Keighley parked in the car park of the neighbouring Conservative Club. There were two clearly visible signs meant to deter such parking but these were routinely ignored.
The owners of the fish and chip shop claimed a right to park cars on the Club’s land based on prescription by lost modern grant on the basis of 20 years uninterrupted use. The key question for the court was whether the shop, their customers and suppliers could show that their use of the car park had not been contentious or had been allowed only under protect so to amount to use “without force” for the purposes of prescription. The owners maintained that the Club had not protested enough over the years about the parking and this amounted to acquiescence allowing the parking.
The Court of Appeal found for the Club. The signs showed the Club’s continuing objection to the parking. As one of the Judges said, “The erection and maintenance of an appropriate sign is a peaceful and inexpensive means of making clear that property is private and not to be used by others. I do not see why those who ignore such signs should thereby be entitled to obtain legal rights over the land.”