Throughout the centuries, British law has naturally grown more complex and detailed. As new laws are introduced, it becomes harder for lawmakers to maintain consistency and clarity throughout the legal system. Public footpath law is no exception and we believe that the law on this subject is now getting out of hand.
The Human Rights Act 1998 asserts basic human rights for UK citizens. We believe that public footpath law currently contradicts this law on three counts:
1) Infringement of ‘Protection of Property’
Our interpretation of this article is that footpath law currently infringes on the right to protection of property by allowing members of the public access to private property without permission from the owner of said property. The article also includes a clause that protects the public interest from being compromised as a result of this protection. This clause could nullify our argument by maintaining that keeping traditional public footpaths as they are is in the public interest. However, we believe that the greater public interest lies in promoting the fundamental principles behind basic human rights over preserving the public footpaths that infringe upon these human rights.
We believe that, in protecting respect for private life, this article says that the general public should not be permitted to cross land which has been designed, built or bought to be used privately. As such, many footpaths are in direct conflict with this article.
Article 14 states that the British public cannot be subject to discrimination brought on by a number of characteristics, such as race or gender. The part of this article which we believe to be relevant is with regards to another one of these characteristics – association with a property. The article insists that rights cannot be withdrawn by association to property, however many individuals who have applied for footpaths running through their land to be moved would say that their rights to articles 1 and 8, above, have been denied, because of the association they have to a property that is subject to footpath law.