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Pearson v Foster [2017] EWHC 107 (Ch): fisheries, watermills and riparian rights

Nathan Wells, instructed by Beviss & Beckingsale (Honiton), acted for the successful Defendant in Pearson v Foster [2017] EWHC 107 (Ch). The case gave rise to a number of unusual property law issues.

The Claimant was the registered owner of incorporeal fishing rights (a profit à prendre in gross) which affected, inter alia, certain waters in the Mill Leat serving the Defendant’s ancient Watermill. The Claimant also had the benefit of certain express rights which were ancillary to the profit of fishery, including “The right to maintain the weirs and execute all proper works thereto for the purpose of maintaining the rivers and backwaters in the best condition for the enjoyment of the said fishing rights”. The Claimant claimed that his rights entitled him to operate the sluice gates in the Leat in the interests of his fishery, notwithstanding the effect that this could have on the proposed operation of the Defendant’s recently restored Watermill. In the course of the dispute, a number of further issues arose between the parties.

Mr Justice Newey decided a number of issues following a 7 day hearing in Winchester and London. These included the following:

The official transcript of the judgment can be accessed here.