The House of Lords has given judgment in Oxfordshire County Council v Oxford City Council  UKHL 25 (see in the Court of Appeal  Ch 43, and at first instance  Ch 253 per Lightman J).
These appeals are the third time since 1999 that the HL has had to consider village greens and the provisions relating to them currently contained in the Commons Registration Act 1965 (“the 1965 Act”) (see R v Oxfordshire County Council, ex p Sunningwell  1 AC 335 and R (Beresford) v Sunderland City Council  1 AC 889).
The main points from the judgments of majority (Lord Hoffmann, Lord Rodger and Lord Walker) were as follows:
1. all applications for registration of land as a class c village green made on or after 30 January 2001 engage the amended definition of “town or village green” introduced into the 1965 Act by the Countryside and Rights of Way Act 2000 (Baroness Hale dissenting on this point)
2. the new definition requires the qualifying use to continue until the date of the application for registration not until actual registration as the Court of Appeal had ruled;
3. upon registration as a town or village green it becomes such a green for all purposes including the application of the Victorian penal legislation;
4. upon registration as a town or village green land can be used generally for sports and pastimes even if the qualifying user was more limited – but this does not mean that the owner is altogether excluded from the land he continues to have such rights over it as do not interfere with the recreational use;
5. village green legislation does not breach Article 1, Protocol 1 of the Convention, JA Pye (Oxford) Ltd v UK  EGLR 1 was distinguishable)
6. Commons Registration Authorities have flexibility as regards the procedure to be adopted on applications for registration thus subject to acting fairly they can allow amendments to applications but they do not have an investigative duty to find evidence or reformulate an applicant’s case.
James Maurici was junior counsel instructed by DEFRA as an Intervener in the appeals.