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Review Your SQE 1 Practice Records

Examination Timing: 00H01M32S

Jane and Olivia own adjoining fields. Jane’s field has a gate providing access to the public highway, while Olivia’s field only has access via a stile. Olivia wishes to keep a small herd of sheep, and Jane agrees to grant her an easement over her field so that Olivia can move her sheep to the highway. The easement is granted “to Olivia for the benefit of her land to last for as long as she uses the land for grazing a small herd of sheep.” Olivia finds sheep farming profitable and expands her herd significantly, buying adjacent fields and using the easement to move her large herd, causing damage to Jane’s field. Jane seeks an injunction and compensation. How would you advise Jane?

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Jane could claim damages from Olivia and the court would likely grant an injunction. Olivia's easement is equitable (as it has been granted for an uncertain period of time), and in equity, she must come to court "with clean hands." By enlarging her herd and overusing the easement, Olivia has exceeded the scope of the grant. The court can grant Jane damages and an injunction to prevent Olivia from continuing to use the easement, as she has violated the terms of the initial agreement. 

Key Point: The equitable principle of "clean hands" requires that a party seeking equitable relief must not be guilty of misconduct in relation to the matter. Overuse or misuse of an easement can lead to legal action, where the court can issue remedies such as damages and injunctions to uphold the original terms of the grant.

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