15 August 2017

Drones & Disputes

The use of drones or unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), has become increasingly widespread by individuals and commercial industries worldwide.

The UK agricultural sector is no exception. Drones are being utilised for a wide range of purposes.

There are legal considerations which drone users and landowners should be aware of in order to avoid costly disputes.

Flying a drone over property at heights which do not interfere with a landowner’s ordinary use of their land is unlikely to constitute trespass. Similarly, occasional flights over another’s land is unlikely to amount to nuisance.

Issues may arise where drone activity of this nature is a regular occurrence. The courts have yet to clarify the position however, it is advisable that landowner consent is obtained in advance of any regular drone use over private land.

Property damage caused by drones is likely to escalate alongside increased drone use. Whether the damage is to crops, livestock, or buildings, negligent drone users will be liable for foreseeable losses arising from their negligence. The statutory position relating to manned aircraft (extendable to drone use) goes further, imposing strict liability on negligent users. Please ensure your insurance provides cover for all eventualities.

If a drone has a camera, its use is potentially covered by the Data Protection Act. Users should be cautious not to infringe data collection provisions or privacy rights. You should adopt a non-intrusive, conscientious approach to what, or who, they are recording and how any data obtained is shared or stored.

Please contact our dispute resolution team for advice on potential disputes arising from drone use.

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