The Court of Appeal has ruled that no compensation is payable by telecoms operators to owners of canals, trams or railways if a telecoms line is laid across (not along) their land. (Other classes of landowner are not affected.)
The case Bridgewater Canal Co Ltd v GEO Networks Ltd concerned the canal that opened great age of waterways but proved 'an obstacle' to broadband when the owner wanted to charge telecommunications company Geo Networks Ltd, which already pays rent to maintain a duct under the canal, for putting a further fibre optic cable under the canal.
An arbitrator ruled that compensation should be payable solely for the carrying out of the works, not for the granting of any continuing rights to keep those works under the canal.
In March this year, High Court judge Mr Justice Lewison allowed the canal owner's appeal against that decision, ruling that the compensation payable should reflect not only the right to carry out the works but also the right to retain the works on the land.
The Court of Appeal didn't like the "windfall" that would give so overturned the ruling.
I'd hazard a guess that this ruling could produce a fair amount of teeth gnashing from companies who have been merrily extracting very large sums from telecom companies for the right to cross their land, which the Appeal Court has just said they can't charge profits for.
They are entitled to compensation for any actual loss and damage, but no rent or wayleave payments. "The best things in life are free....".
Latest news: Permission to appeal refused by the CofA; the canal owner doubtlessly will petition the Supreme Court.
Image by anyangxx via Flickr [original phon D Sharon Pruitt