Use of water - Customary Law ( 11.8.52.L1 )


Use of water - Customary Law

Extent: Jersey
Updated: 13 January 2016



Words you may need to know


Customary law - law developed in the courts, not made by Government

Unrestricted - unlimited

Exhausts - causes to run out

Natural course - the natural and normal way it runs

Divert - make something go another way. Take it from its natural course

Adjacent - alongside

Permissible - allowed

Pollute - make bad, taint

To the prejudice - to the loss, disadvantage or harm

Bordering - running alongside


Water rising on a property

Customary Law in Jersey allows owners of land unrestricted use of any water which rises on their land. They can use it as they think fit, even if such use exhausts it completely. If the water is not exhausted, it must be left to take its natural course, the landowner must not alter its natural course and divert it.

The adjacent property must receive any water which runs off when this is the natural way it would run. The owner of the lower property onto which water runs can't require his neighbour to keep it or alter its course or prevent it from doing what it would otherwise have done.

It is not permissible to pollute water which will then flow onto lower land.

Water flowing across property, not having risen there

When water does not rise on a property the person whose land it flows over does not have the right to exhaust the supply in the same way as if the water source was on his property. He may use the water but he must not dam it or change the course of the water to the prejudice of property lower down.


The owner of land on which it falls has the right to keep it. He may also keep water falling on a road bordering his property as long as he does not damage the road. If the natural slope of the land upon which the rain falls carries the water from the land onto neighbouring land, the owner of the lower land is bound to receive it and cannot complain. Water falling onto a property, perhaps a building must not be artificially discharged onto a neighbours land, by the use of gutters or water pipe.

Information: For further details see the Jersey Law of Property - there is a copy at the Citizens Advice Jersey or in the Library.