Ramblers are celebrating the Court of Appeal’s ruling in the Andrews case, which was heard earlier this month. In a judgment delivered on 1 July, the three Court of Appeal judges, Lord Dyson (Master of the Rolls—the second most senior judge in England and Wales), Lady Justice Gloster and Lord Justice Sales, gave a clear ruling that the judgment in the original Andrews case, back in 1993, was wrong, and that section 10 of the 1801 Inclosure Act did authorise Inclosure commissioners to set out and award public footpaths and bridleways when making inclosure awards.
This new judgment vindicates the long-held view of the Ramblers and other experts that the 1993 case was wrongly decided and is a tribute to the tenacity of John Andrews. John was Ramblers Area Footpath Secretary in Suffolk for many years, and was responsible for many successful claims to add paths to the definitive map in that county. John, working closely with historical map expert Dr Yolande Hodson led the Ramblers’ research project which studied many inclosure awards to find evidence to help back this appeal. It has taken nearly 15 years of research and legal debate to get this result.
Janet Davis, senior policy officer at the Ramblers, said: “We are immensely pleased that the Court took a very common-sense approach to the interpretation of this old legislation and agreed with our view that the Inclosure Commissioners did have the power to award public footpaths and bridleways under the 1801 Act. This will be of enormous help to all those who are researching lost ways in the run-up to the 2026 cut-off date for recording old routes on the definitive map.”
“We are very grateful to everyone who helped with this case, in particular our legal team, barristers George Laurence QC and Edwin Simpson, solicitors Richard Lindley and Emma Farrell of Winston Solicitors, and our expert witness Dr Hodson, and the very many others who contributed to the research and with advice over the years.”
John Andrews commented “It has taken an astonishingly long time to achieve this `break through’, but in reality this is only the first step towards the formal recognition of many ancient public paths whose continued existence had been threatened by the views of High Court judges.”
Now that the 1993 court ruling has been dismissed, an important source of evidence about the existence of historic public rights of way can again be fully utilised by researchers working to make sure that the rights of way network is properly recorded.
You can read the full judgment here.