The case centred on provisions in the Countryside and Rights of Way Act 2000 stating that land can be registered as a town green if a significant number of inhabitants of any locality or any neighbourhood within it have used it for lawful sports and pastimes as of right for at least 20 years.
The landowners argued that the act, which came into force in January 2001, should not have retrospective effect and that parliament could not have intended that time before this should count towards a 20-year period. Lord Justice Sullivan disagreed, finding it absurd to imagine that parliament had reasoned in this way.
In his view, the two-month period allowed after the act won royal assent for landowners to take steps to safeguard themselves against potential town and village green applications had been sufficient to preserve their rights under the convention.
Leeds Group Plc v Leeds City Council
Date: 2 December 2011