Expropriation Law Centre




Peterson Stark Scott


Whose land was it anyway? The Crichel Down Rules and the sale of public land
Roger Gibbard
Here is an article written in 2002 by Professor Roger Gibbard from the Henley Business School at the University of Reading in England. Although the article deals with a specific set of rules applicable to that country the subject matter involves abandonment and revesting of expropriated land which are issues that also arise in Canada. The article has been reproduced here with the permission of the author. The author's summary of the article is set out below:

The guiding principle of compulsory purchase of interests in land in England and Wales is that of fairness, best stated in the words of Lord Justice Scott in Horn v Sunderland Corporation when he said that the owner has “the right to be put, so far as money can do it, in the same position as if his land had not been taken from him”. In many instances, land acquired by compulsion subsequently becomes surplus to the requirements of the acquiring authority. This may be because the intended development scheme was scrapped, or substantially modified, or that after the passage of time the use of the land for which the purchase took place is no longer required. More controversially it may be that for ‘operational reasons’ the acquiring authority knowingly purchased more land than was required for the scheme. Under these circumstances, the Crichel Down Rules (‘the Rules’) require government departments and other statutory bodies to offer back to the former owners or their successors, any land previously so acquired by, or under the threat of, compulsory purchase.
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Page last updated: July 15, 2020