The Tenant's Right to Shoot

AuthorLaura Saunsbury/Nick Doherty
Pages193-197

Chapter 13


The Tenant’s Right to Shoot

COMMON LAW

13.01 Under Common Law, the right to possession of land carries with it the right to take all birds and animals naturally on the land, whether they be game or not.1Thus a landowner has such rights and he may reserve those rights to himself or grant them to another. When he grants such game rights, the grantee may exercise those rights in the same manner and to the same extent as the owner of the land. Where the owner, whether in occupation or not, has let the shooting rights, he has no right at Common Law to shoot over the land. However, an owner in occupation has a statutory right to shoot ground game.2

13.02 If the owner does not occupy his land but lets it to another under a tenancy then, unless the shooting is ‘reserved’ to the landlord, the tenant will have an absolute right to shoot as against any other person. Conversely, if the right to take game is ‘reserved’, the tenant will have no right to shoot at Common Law.3This rule is expressly preserved by the GA 1831.4Further, it is an offence under that Act for an occupier to pursue, kill or take game, or to permit another to do so, where the owner has reserved the game rights or granted them to another.5

However, any reservation of rights will be void in so far as it purports to exclude the owner’s rights to destroy ground game.6An occupier, such as a tenant, with

1Rare exceptions to this rule apply where sporting rights are given to lords of manors under

Inclosure Acts and Awards.

2Ground Game Act 1880 (GGA 1880), s 1. ‘Ground game’ means hares and rabbits (GGA 1880, s 8).

3Unless he is expressly permitted to do so by the landlord.

4GA 1831, s 8, which also forbids the occupier to permit another person to shoot.

5GA 1831, s 1. The punishment for such an offence is a fine at level 1 on the standard scale, and a person can be fined such an amount for each head of game so killed or taken.

6GGA 1880, s 3.

194 The Firearms Law Handbook

full shooting rights may authorise any person to kill and take game and other birds and animals and may also let or assign his shooting rights.

GROUND GAME ACT 1880

13.03 As can be seen above, the position at Common Law was much altered by the Ground Game Act 1880 (GGA 1880). The objective of the Act was to allow tenants without shooting rights to protect their crops against hares and rabbits. It did so by permitting occupiers of land to kill and take ground game7on their land concurrently with any other person who may have the right to do the same thing.8

Within certain limitations, tenants may also claim compensation from their landlords for damage to crops caused by any wild animals or birds.9There are some extensions to, and several limitations on, this right of the occupier to take ground game, and these will now be considered.

13.04 First, who shall be deemed an occupier for the...

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