February 23, 2021 – Two new uniform acts – the Uniform Easement Relocation Act and the Uniform Public Expression Protection Act – have been approved by the American Bar Association's House of Delegates as "appropriate Acts for those states desiring to adopt the specific substantive law suggested therein." The acts were approved at the ABA's 2021 Virtual Midyear Meeting February 17-22, 2021. The acts were drafted and approved by the Uniform Law Commission (ULC) in 2020.
The Uniform Easement Relocation Act modifies the rule requiring mutual consent for easement relocation. In many, but not all, states, the owner of the burdened property and the holder of an easement must consent to relocate the easement, such as the legal right to use a driveway that runs from a public road across one property to access another. When the owner of the burdened property asks to relocate an easement to allow further development, an easement holder in a state that follows the mutual consent rule can withhold consent to prevent the development or demand a ransom payment before agreeing to the change. The Uniform Easement Relocation Act allows the burdened estate owner to obtain a court order to relocate an easement if the relocation does not materially impair the utility of the easement to the easement holder or the physical condition, use, or value of the benefited property. The burdened property owner must file a civil action, give other potentially affected real-property interest owners notice, and bear all the costs of relocation. These conditions build on the rule contained in the Restatement (Third) of Property: Servitudes, whose approach to easement relocation has been fully or partially adopted in a number of states. The Uniform Easement Relocation Act excludes conservation easements and public-utility easements from its scope and contains a number of additional safeguards, not found in the Restatement, to protect the easement holder's interest in the use and enjoyment of the easement during and after the relocation.
The purpose of the Uniform Public Expression Protection Act is to provide a remedy for defendants involved in lawsuits called "Strategic Lawsuits Against Public Participation," or "SLAPPs." SLAPPs are abusive civil lawsuits that may be brought against individuals, entities, or government officials. The topics of these lawsuits range from education and zoning to politics and the environment. Though the claim of the lawsuit may be defamation, tortious interference with business expectations, invasion of privacy, or something else, the real goal of a SLAPP lawsuit is to entangle the defendant in expensive litigation that stifles the defendant's ability to engage in constitutionally protected activities. The Uniform Public Expression Protection Act creates a clear process through which SLAPPs can be challenged and their merits fairly evaluated in an expedited manner. The Act protects individuals' rights to petition and speak freely on issues of public interest while, at the same time, protecting the rights of people and entities to file meritorious lawsuits for real injuries.
Information on each of these uniform acts is available at the ULC's website at www.uniformlaws.org.
The Uniform Law Commission, now in its 130th year, provides states with non-partisan, well-conceived and well-drafted legislation that brings clarity and stability to critical areas of state statutory law. The organization comprises more than 300 lawyers, judges, and law professors, appointed by the states as well as the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands, to research, draft and promote enactment of uniform state laws in areas of state law where uniformity is desirable and practical. Since its inception in 1892, the group has promulgated more than 200 acts, among them such bulwarks of state statutory law as the Uniform Commercial Code, the Uniform Probate Code, and the Uniform Partnership Act.
Contact: Katie Robinson, ULC Communications Officer, krobinson@...
Uniform Law Commission / 111 N. Wabash Ave., Suite 1010, Chicago, IL 60602 / 312-450-6600 www.uniformlaws.org
Uniform Law Commission 111 N. Wabash Avenue, Suite 1010 Chicago, Illinois 60602
Uniform Law Commission The Uniform Law Commission (ULC, also known as the National Conference of Commissioners on Uniform State Laws), established in 1892, provides states with non-partisan, well-conceived and well-drafted legislation that brings clarity and stability to critical areas of state statutory law.