Wheeldon v Burrows [1879]

Wheeldon v Burrows [1879] LR 12 Ch D 31 is a landmark English land law case that established a crucial means for the implied grant of easements. This case plays a significant role in governing the acquisition of easements through implied grant and has been further consolidated by Section 62 of the Law of Property Act 1925.

Mr Tetley owned a piece of land along with a workshop in Derby. The workshop had windows that received light from the land. Mr Tetley sold the workshop to Mr Burrows and the piece of land to Mr Wheeldon. Subsequently, Mrs Wheeldon, the widow of Mr Wheeldon, built on the land, obstructing the windows of Mr Burrows' workshop. In response, Mr Burrows dismantled Mrs Wheeldon's construction, asserting an easement over the light passing through Wheeldon's lot. This led to Mrs Wheeldon bringing an action in trespass.

Thesiger LJ held that since the seller had not expressly reserved the right of access to light the windows, no such right was passed to the purchaser of the workshop. Therefore, the buyer of the land had the right to obstruct the workshop windows with building. However, the judgment also outlined two general rules governing cases of this nature. The first rule stated that when the owner of a piece of land grants a part of that land as it is then used and enjoyed, all continuous and apparent easements (quasi easements) necessary for the reasonable enjoyment of the granted property are passed to the grantee. These easements must have been in use by the owners of the entirety for the benefit of the part granted. The second rule emphasised that if the grantor intends to reserve any right over the tenement granted, it is the grantor's duty to expressly reserve it in the grant. Both of these rules are grounded in the principle that a grantor should not derogate from their grant, a maxim that is well-established by authority and aligns with common sense.

Wheeldon v Burrows is significant as it consolidated one of the three methods by which an easement can be acquired by implied grant. This case law was little altered by subsequent decisions until 1925, after which it was further reinforced by Section 62 of the Law of Property Act. Both the case and the legislation have been crucial in guiding the implied grant of easements and ensuring a balance between the rights of grantors and grantees in land transactions.
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