Minister for Justice Heather Humphreys is to seek cabinet approval on Tuesday to scrap the 30 November deadline to register private rights of way, the Irish Farmers Journal understands.

Under the Land and Conveyancing Law Reform Act 2009, all private rights of way are required to be registered by 30 November 2021.

It is understood that the minister will seek cabinet approval to draft and quickly enact an amending bill to clarify the law on how some property rights, such as rights of way, are validated and registered.

This bill would remove the November deadline, largely reverting the law to the pre-2009 position.

As the deadline is just 10 weeks away, the minister is set to seek a waiver of pre-legislative scrutiny and early signature of the Land and Conveyancing Law Reform (Amendment) Bill 2021 by the President.

It is also understood that a review will also take place to look at any further changes needed to ensure the law on prescriptive rights is sustainable in the long term.

Current law

Under the law as it stands, if a right of way is not registered, landowners must show continuous use of the right of way from 1 December 2009 to the date of registration after 30 November 2021, regardless of whether the right of way was used for decades before the deadline.

It is estimated that half of all rights of way remain unregistered.

Minister Humphreys had sought the advice of the Attorney General in order to find a solution to the deadline, which farmers, the Bar Council and Law Society had all expressed concerns about.


The law on how easements - rights which allow the use of someone else’s property for a specific purpose such as a right of way - was amended in 2009 and again in 2011.

The 2009 amendment changed how rights of way could be acquired by long use or “prescription” and would apply in cases, for example, where a neighbour claimed rights over a neighbour’s land based on long use.

Before 2009, such rights of way were usually verified by a statutory declaration, where a written statement would be signed and declared to be true.

Last month, the Irish Farmers Journal hosted a webinar on rights of way, answering farmer queries and outlining cases where there could be issues registering write of way. You can watch it back here.