Advice of 3PB Barrister sitting as an Inspector in Village Green Inquiry approved in Court of Appeal

The Court of Appeal has recently restored the finding of 3PB planning and public law barrister William Webster on statutory incompatibility in his report when sitting as an Inspector in a village green inquiry for Surrey County Council in 2015. The decision of Gilbart J on this issue (in which he rejected the inspector’s advice and recommendation to the registration authority on statutory incompatibility) was set aside (see R (on the application of NHS Property Services Ltd) v Surrey County Council & Jones [2018] EWCA Civ 721).

The Court of Appeal were considering the principle of law that you should not interpret an enactment in such a way as will cause it to clash with obligations arising under another statute. This arises in village green law and is a means of excluding land held for particular statutory purposes from the ambit of the Commons Act 2006 and registration as a village green. This new ruling follows the earlier finding of the Supreme Court in Newhaven Port and Properties Ltd v East Sussex County Council [2015] which is now to be given a narrow interpretation in village green cases.