Disputes about easements can have a huge emotional and financial cost to Tasmanians. This is highlighted by the way in which this project came to the attention of the Institute. In suggesting a review of the law of easements, a member of the public detailed the significant emotional, personal and financial costs involved in a dispute about the use of a right of way. Ultimately, this dispute led the dominant owner to sell their property and move. Underlying this dispute is a stark reminder of the need for rights attaching to land to be easily identifiable and clearly understood.
This paper highlights a number of problems associated with easements in Tasmania. First, it asks whether the law on access to an easement should be clarified. Good neighbourly relations can be destroyed if the expectation of the dominant and servient owner in respect of use of the easement differ greatly. A clearer delineation of when and how an easement can be used may well eliminate many of the disputes that presently occur. In addition, the paper asks whether an inexpensive dispute resolution mechanism should be formalised within the legislation.