Sporting rights

If you are planning to buy rural land or if you are taking part in country sports on someone else’s land you should find out what sporting rights exist and who owns them. In most cases sporting rights are classed as profits à prendre – that is, they are concerned with the right to do something on and take something from the land (rather than owning the land).

Sporting rights are automatically owned by the landowner unless they have been formally separated. If they have been separated the sporting rights can be sold or let in the same way as any other property. Most sporting rights are separated in one of three ways:

  1. The landowner sells the land but retains the sporting rights
  2. The landowner keeps the land and permanently sells the sporting rights to another party
  3. The landowner keeps the land and grants a licence to a person or group for a set period of time

In some cases sporting rights are agreed verbally. However, this can cause disputes and lengthy litigation. We would always recommend a formal lease, licence or sale agreement that sets out the relevant details.

Meet the team

Michael McNally


Michael McNally heads the department and specialises in employment litigation, acting primarily for hunts, shoots, landed estates and animal-related organisations. Tim Ryan is the other key figure, and has substantial expertise in criminal and regulatory law related to country sports.

Legal 500 – 2018

Michael McNally is a litigator, primarily acting for shoots, landed estates, hunts and properties working with animals. He advises on sporting rights, boundary disputes and equine sales and purchases.

Chambers & Partners 2017