As the population as a whole has more time for leisure activities with part-time working and early retirement, a gentleman’s agreement as regards the use of your land by a third party may no longer be appropriate, especially for a commercial shooting syndicate or substantial fishing club.
The Agriculture Team here at Butcher & Barlow, who have worked closely with BASC, have experience in both drafting and advising on all forms of sporting agreements, whether by way of a formal lease of the sporting rights or a simple licence agreement to fish a particular river, lake or pond.
Many large estates have reserved their sporting rights which enables them to let these (notwithstanding a tenant’s objections) to commercial shoots. These rights are separate from the land itself and are often referred to as an ‘incorporeal hereditament’. These rights give a person the right to enter upon another’s property, shoot what they find and remove it as their own. For most organised shoots the rights to enter, shoot and remove game is insufficient – they need rights of access, parking, rearing and release of birds. From the landowner’s perspective the ability to limit the number of days on which shooting takes place or the right to shoot vermin are essential.
The identity of the syndicate or club or individual need to be clearly identified, together with the an accurate plan showing the extent of land or river. Furthermore, in an effort to reduce the potential for dispute, the party responsible for insurance and damage to property and crops should be clearly defined.
Security of tenure also needs to be addressed at the outset especially if there is to be a hut or lodge to be erected (often with exclusive possession) and all agreements need to be negotiated carefully to avoid costly litigation in the event of a dispute.
No agreement can be a cover all – all are individual. Seek advice at the outset of negotiations.