Pursuer Patrick Bell is the proprietor of a piece of land, called Bellshaugh, along the river Clyde near Glasgow. The magistrates of Glasgow purchased land near Bell's property and sought to enclose it. Bell claims that he has a property right to access a road that runs through the field the magistrates are trying to enclose. The magistrates offered to build two dikes instead of one if Bell covered half of the expenses of construction. The magistrates also offered to erect a gate to preserve Bell's right to the road. Bell refused both. Bell claims that any gate, whether locked or "flying" (without keys), will deprive him some beneficial use of the property. The magistrates maintain that either accommodation -- the double dike or the gate -- is reasonable and equitable. The magistrates also maintain that Bell only holds the right to the road by servitude. Bell denies that he has a right of servitude, claiming instead that he has an absolute property right.