Common Land

Common Land: Overview

Generally, common land is land owned by one person over which another person is entitled to exercise rights of common (such as grazing animals or cutting bracken for livestock bedding), and these rights are generally exercisable in common with others.

But in legal terms, the situation is inevitably more complex. There is no single definition of the term 'common land', or indeed of 'common' or 'common rights'.

Perhaps the most transparent approach today is to consider common land to be all the land which was registered under the Commons Registration Act 1965 and which is shown as such in the registers held by the commons registration authorities. However, this definition is seldom adopted in any legislation (an exception is liability for livestock on highways crossing common land in the Animals Act 1971). Furthermore, some common land was exempted from registration under the Act, and so is not registered as such, even though it is widely recognised as common land today.

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