Criminal Defence

Woodward Lawson are able to provide a high level of personal guidance throughout all forms of criminal prosecution in Aberdeen and elsewhere in Scotland. We provide expert representation in all types of criminal cases in the High Court, Sheriff or Justice of the Peace Courts.

Civil Litigation

Woodward Lawson represent clients in a broad range of civil court cases, both in the Sheriff Court and Court of Session.

Contractual Disputes

Contracts form the backbone of daily life in any business. Occasionally, difficulties arise in relation to what was actually agreed and disputes occur if one party does not do what the other expects them to do.

Guardianship & Incapacity

We have significant experience in relation to Guardianship applications both from the perspective of raising applications for Guardianship and also in opposing such applications in disputed cases. Ian Woodward-Nutt also regularly acts as a Court appointed reporter in relation to Guardianship cases.

Building Disputes

Whether you are a builder seeking payment for works which have run into difficulties or a client receiving possible defective building work, it is best to seek our advice at the earliest possible juncture.

Road Traffic Offences

Road Traffic Law forms part of the Criminal Law that is a broad and technically complicated area. If you have been charged by the police or have received papers intimating a criminal prosecution for an alleged road traffic offence, it is important to take advice from an experienced criminal defence lawyer at the earliest opportunity.

Debt Collection

Every business encounters debtors from time to time and this can seriously affect important cash flow. At Woodward Lawson, we provide a robust one-stop service from seven day letters to pursuing court action in the Sheriff Court and Court of Session.

Property & Boundary Disputes

Few aspects of life can cause such concern as a neighbour asserting rights over your land or preventing you from doing something on their land that you thought you had a right to do.

Divorce, Separation & Cohabitation

The breakdown of a relationship, be it marriage, civil partnership or cohabitation, leads to all manner of financial worries and practical difficulties as the inevitable change in your personal circumstances occurs. This is especially so if there are major assets which require to be divided.

Road Haulage Representation

Woodward Lawson are pleased to offer representation in all matters concerning road haulage and transport law.

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News & Comment

Servitude Rights to Wells, Pumps and Pipes

15 August 2021

If you and your heritable predecessors have continually used a water source and pipe and storage system situated on your neighbours land for decades and it is the only active water supply to your property, you might consider that you have a servitude or legal right in that supply.

But, not necessarily so.

In a case between neighbours in that situation, a client of ours obtained a declarator from the Court to the effect that his neighbour had no servitude right to the water supply at all despite the water supply having been used since 1945.  The neighbour had advanced three reasons in order to preserve the right that he alleged, and these were explored and argued over a number of days of detailed evidence and submission.

Firstly, although many people might think that 20 years or more of use would be sufficient to establish a right based upon the rules of statutory prescription, the use has to be “as of right”.  Many landowners, especially in the countryside, are prepared to tolerate a neighbour’s use of a facility on their land as a matter of goodwill because it is not causing them any immediate inconvenience. However, they have no actual intention of granting the neighbour any legal rights. Unfortunately, after a number of years of such continuous use (especially when it is over 20 years), a neighbour or their successor in title might form the impression that they have legal rights to that facility. Much will depend on the circumstances in each case if a significant period of usage can be shown, and in forming a final view, a Court can examine many years of relations between neighbours.

Secondly, another ground advanced by the neighbour in the case was based upon implied reservation. Implied reservation might arise where a part of a larger property is sold off with a particular facility within its boundary and the other (or remaining) part of the larger property continues to enjoy the use of this facility. It was argued that since this water source was the only one in use when the larger property was split up, it must be implied that the owners of the larger property intended to reserve a servitude right in respect of it even though they had not inserted a clause to that effect in the title deed. The right of implied reservation is based upon the premise that there may have been a mistake in the original conveyancing. However, a Court will only make a decision of implied reservation if there is no other source of water supply on the neighbour’s land and therefore, the source was required out of necessity. In reaching its decision, the Court heard evidence covering the history of the respective areas of land since the mid 19th century as well as expert evidence on the various drains and water courses on the land. It was established that there were other water sources available even if they were not actively being used.

Finally, the opponent advanced a third case based upon express reservation which is where the terms of a title deed in the past might be wide enough to suggest a servitude right. This, too,  was unsuccessful. In any event, when two properties come into the ownership of one owner (as had happened in this case for over 40 years in the middle of the 20th century), any existing express servitudes between the properties are extinguished as a matter of law.

What is clear from the case is that any consideration of circumstances requires to be carried out in detail for a definitive answer, and therefore, early advice from a solicitor is essential especially where evidence from older witnesses has to be preserved.