Campbell’s Trustees v Sweeney

Case Report: 1911 S.C. 1319; 1911 2 S.L.T. 194

This case considered the extent to which the right to navigate a navigable river includes the right to moor a vessel in the course of such navigation.

The facts: The area of river considered was part of the estate of Tullichewan, held by the trustees of the deceased Campbell. The pursuers claimed that the defender and his associates were infringing upon their rights as proprietors by permanently mooring a houseboat to the bank or bed of the river. The defender claimed that the mooring of a houseboat was incidental to his right of navigation and that a bolt or pinch entrenched in the bed of the river for the attachment of an anchor was just an extension of the right of navigation and one which did not infringe upon the use and navigation of the river by any other party.

Decision: An interdict was granted in favour of the proprietors. It was held that permanently mooring a vessel was not incidental to the right to navigate the river.

Comment: See also Scammell v Scottish Sports Council 1983 SLT 462, in which it was held that the use of a pole on a river bed could be an incident of the right of navigation (e.g. to punt a vessel), but having a picnic on the banks of a river was not an incidental right.

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