Define: Accessory Right

Accessory Right
Accessory Right
Quick Summary of Accessory Right

Accessory rights are additional rights that individuals possess alongside their primary rights. For instance, if someone possesses a piece of land, they may also have an accessory right to utilise a road that passes through the land. These accessory rights can be seen as supplementary benefits accompanying the main right.

What is the dictionary definition of Accessory Right?
Dictionary Definition of Accessory Right

An accessory right is an additional right granted to the same owner of a main right. For example, the right to security is an accessory right to the right that is secured. If a person owns a piece of land, they have the main right to it. However, if they also have the right to use a neighbouring property for a specific purpose, that right is considered an accessory right. The accessory right is supplementary to the main right and is granted to the same owner. It is crucial to understand that the accessory right cannot exist independently without the main right.

Full Definition Of Accessory Right

Accessory rights, also known as ancillary or subsidiary rights, are fundamental legal concepts that play a crucial role in property law, particularly in the context of real estate and intellectual property. These rights are secondary or auxiliary to a principal right, enhancing or supporting the primary right holder’s ability to enjoy or utilize the main right. This overview aims to provide an in-depth understanding of accessory rights, focusing on their application, significance, and legal implications in British law.

Definition and Nature of Accessory Rights

Accessory rights are secondary rights that are dependent on a principal right. They do not exist independently but are attached to and support the main right, providing additional benefits or protections. The primary purpose of accessory rights is to ensure the effective use and enjoyment of the principal right. They can be positive, allowing certain actions, or negative, imposing restrictions.

In British law, accessory rights can be found in various areas, including property law, intellectual property, and contract law. These rights are often implied rather than explicitly stated, arising from the nature of the principal right or the necessity to fulfil its purpose.

Accessory Rights in Property Law


Easements are one of the most common types of accessory rights in property law. They grant the holder the right to use another person’s land for a specific purpose. Easements can be positive, such as the right to cross a neighbour’s land (right of way), or negative, such as the right to prevent a neighbour from obstructing light to a window.

Easements can arise in several ways, including express grant, implied grant, prescription, or necessity. For example, an easement by necessity might arise when a landlocked property needs access to a public road.


Covenants are promises contained in a deed to do or not do something with the land. They can be either restrictive (negative) or positive. Restrictive covenants prevent the landowner from engaging in specific activities, such as building structures above a certain height. Positive covenants require the landowner to perform certain actions, such as maintaining a boundary fence.

In British law, restrictive covenants can bind successive owners of the land, provided certain conditions are met. Positive covenants, however, generally do not run with the land unless there is a direct contractual agreement between the parties involved.

Profits à Prendre

A profit à prendre allows the holder to enter another person’s land and take natural resources, such as minerals, timber, or game. This right is beneficial to the holder and serves as an accessory to the principal right of ownership or leasehold.

Accessory Rights in Intellectual Property Law


In intellectual property law, accessory rights play a significant role in enhancing the protection and utilization of primary rights such as copyrights. For instance, the right to produce derivative works is an accessory right to the copyright holder. This includes creating adaptations, translations, or any other new work based on the original.

Additionally, moral rights, such as the right to attribution and the right to object to derogatory treatment of the work, support the main copyright by protecting the creator’s personal connection to their work.


Patent law also recognises accessory rights. A patent holder has the principal right to exclude others from making, using, selling, or distributing the patented invention. Accessory rights include the right to license the patent to others, either exclusively or non-exclusively, thereby extending the commercial reach of the primary patent right.

Accessory Rights in Contract Law

In contract law, accessory rights are often embedded within the contractual framework, providing supplementary benefits or protections. These rights can include:

Collateral Warranties

Collateral warranties are agreements that provide additional assurance regarding the performance of a primary contract. For instance, in construction contracts, collateral warranties might be given by subcontractors to the employer, ensuring the quality and standard of their work.

Security Interests

Security interests, such as mortgages and charges, are accessory rights that secure the performance of a principal obligation, typically the repayment of a loan. These rights provide the lender with a claim over the borrower’s property, which can be enforced in the event of default.

Legal Principles Governing Accessory Rights

Principle of Ancillarity

The principle of ancillarity is fundamental to understanding accessory rights. This principle dictates that accessory rights are dependent on and cannot exist without the principal right. The ancillary nature of these rights ensures they serve to enhance, support, or secure the primary right.


The transferability of accessory rights depends on the nature of the principal right and the specific legal framework governing them. In property law, for example, easements can generally be transferred with the land to which they are attached. In intellectual property, licensing agreements can transfer accessory rights under certain conditions.


Accessory rights can be extinguished through various means, such as the termination of the principal right, mutual agreement, or non-use over a significant period. For instance, an easement may be extinguished if it is no longer necessary or if the dominant and servient tenements come into the same ownership.

Case Law Illustrations

Property Law Cases

In Wheeldon v. Burrows (1879), the court established the rule that, upon the sale of part of a land, any quasi-easements that were continuous and apparent at the time of the sale become easements in favour of the grantee. This case underscores the implied grant of easements as accessory rights.

In Tulk v. Moxhay (1848), the court held that restrictive covenants can bind subsequent purchasers of the land if the covenant benefits the land retained by the original covenantor. This case illustrates the principle that accessory rights, such as restrictive covenants, can run with the land.

Intellectual Property Law Cases

In Moral Rights (Copyright and Related Rights) Regulations 2003, the UK implemented moral rights provisions, ensuring that authors have the right to be identified as the creator of their work and to object to derogatory treatment of their work. These moral rights act as accessory rights to the primary copyright, enhancing the protection afforded to authors.

Contract Law Cases

In Co-operative Insurance Society Ltd v. Argyll Stores (Holdings) Ltd (1997), the House of Lords discussed the enforceability of positive covenants in leases, highlighting the importance of collateral warranties in ensuring contractual obligations. This case illustrates how accessory rights in contract law can provide additional security and assurance.

Practical Implications

Real Estate Transactions

Understanding accessory rights is crucial in real estate transactions. Buyers and sellers must be aware of existing easements, covenants, and profits à prendre that may affect the property’s use and value. Proper due diligence can prevent disputes and ensure a smooth transfer of property rights.

Intellectual Property Management

In intellectual property management, recognising and effectively utilising accessory rights, such as licensing and moral rights, can enhance the commercial exploitation and protection of intellectual property assets. Businesses must navigate these rights carefully to maximise their intellectual property portfolio’s value.

Contractual Agreements

In contractual agreements, clearly defining accessory rights, such as collateral warranties and security interests, can provide additional layers of protection and assurance. Parties should ensure that these rights are explicitly stated and understood to avoid potential conflicts and litigation.


Accessory rights, while secondary to principal rights, play an indispensable role in enhancing, supporting, and securing the primary rights across various legal domains. In British law, these rights manifest in property law through easements, covenants, and profits à prendre; in intellectual property law through derivative works and moral rights; and in contract law through collateral warranties and security interests. Understanding the nature, transferability, and extinguishment of accessory rights is essential for legal practitioners, property owners, businesses, and individuals to navigate the complex legal landscape effectively.

The intricate interplay between principal and accessory rights underscores the necessity of a thorough legal understanding to ensure the effective utilisation and protection of these rights. As legal frameworks continue to evolve, the significance of accessory rights remains a cornerstone in maintaining the balance and functionality of legal systems.

Accessory Right FAQ'S

An accessory right is a legal term that refers to a right that is subordinate or secondary to another primary right. It is typically dependent on the existence or exercise of the primary right.

No, an accessory right cannot exist independently. It is always connected to and dependent on a primary right.

Examples of accessory rights include the right to use a shared driveway, the right to access a neighboring property for maintenance purposes, or the right to install utility lines through another person’s property.

An accessory right is usually created through a legal agreement, such as an easement or a license, between the parties involved. It can also be established through court decisions or by operation of law.

Yes, in most cases, an accessory right can be transferred or sold to another party. However, it is important to consult with a legal professional to ensure that the transfer is done properly and in accordance with applicable laws.

In certain circumstances, an accessory right can be revoked. This may occur if the primary right to which it is attached is terminated or if the parties involved agree to revoke the accessory right. However, legal procedures and requirements must be followed to ensure the revocation is valid.

Yes, an accessory right can be modified if all parties involved agree to the changes. However, any modifications should be documented in a legally binding agreement to avoid future disputes.

If someone violates an accessory right, the affected party may seek legal remedies, such as filing a lawsuit for damages or an injunction to stop the violation. The specific legal options will depend on the nature of the violation and the applicable laws in the jurisdiction.

Yes, an accessory right can be terminated if certain conditions are met. For example, if the primary right to which it is attached ceases to exist or if the parties involved agree to terminate the accessory right, it can be legally terminated.

To protect your accessory rights, it is advisable to consult with a legal professional who can help you understand your rights and obligations. Additionally, it is important to have any agreements related to the accessory right properly documented and recorded to ensure their enforceability.

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This site contains general legal information but does not constitute professional legal advice for your particular situation. Persuing this glossary does not create an attorney-client or legal adviser relationship. If you have specific questions, please consult a qualified attorney licensed in your jurisdiction.

This glossary post was last updated: 7th June 2024.

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