A Pressing Case for Reform: compulsory purchase and the no scheme world (May 2004, Martin Edwards)

A Pressing Case for Reform: compulsory purchase and the no scheme world (May 2004, Martin Edwards)


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This article was originally printed in Solicitors Journal in May 2004.

“Rarely can there have been a case which has prompted the two highest courts in the land to send out a clear signal to Parliament to urgently reform the law. In the recent decision in Waters and others v Welsh Development Agency [2004] UKHL 19 the House of Lords was faced with deciding one of the most intractable problems of compulsory purchase law, the so-called “Pointe Gourde principle”.

One of the many problems with compulsory purchase law is that it is a complex, fragmented and obscure body of law. Even worse, as Lord Nicholls observed, some of the modern statutory provisions defy ready comprehension.

Yet compulsory purchase has long been recognised as an essential tool in a modern democratic society. Without it how would have such important items of infrastructure such as railways or motorways have been built? Hand in hand with the power to compulsorily acquire an owner’s land is the obligation to pay full and fair compensation…”


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