Appeal looks lost

The RYA is awaiting the Court of Appeal judgement on paying rent or mooring dues to the owner of the seabed

Wednesday July 25th 2001, Author: Jon Challis, Location: United Kingdom
In what could turn out to be a test case, the signs are that the Port of Ipswich and Ipswich Borough Council are set to lose their appeal against an earlier judgement concerning the dual entitlement to collect rent and license fees on moorings.
The Court of Appeal has also been asked to rule on the general principle that mooring, as an extension of short term anchoring, is part of the free public right of navigation and therefore should not be subject to the landlord’s rent. Judgement is expected in court 64 at the Royal Court of Justice tomorrow (Thursday) at 2pm.

The key issue is the public’s right to lay a private mooring without paying rent or mooring dues to the owner of the seabed.

From time immemorial owners of vessels have laid their own moorings in duly licensed or designated areas, (i.e. not impeding navigation). The recent practice of charging arose after the case of "Fowley Marine" (Emsworth) Limited v Gafford [1967] 2 QB at 808.

The Crown Estates has intervened as the largest owner of the seabed and has a substantial (and increasing) revenue from moorings. The RYA has intervened on behalf of yachtsmen to return to the pre-1967 position and avoid escalating mooring rents.

As mentioned before, this particular case involves statutory law and may be resolved on that basis alone leaving the issue of the public right to moor unresolved. The RYA is represented by Michael Driscoll QC and with him Daniel Margolin.

The hearing is expected to conclude tomorrow and should be of considerable interest to all UK-based yachtsmen, and those interested in maritime law.

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