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Adverse Possession Notes

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This is an extract of our Adverse Possession document, which we sell as part of our GDL Land Law Notes collection written by the top tier of Cambridge/Bpp/College Of Law students.

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ADVERSE POSSESSION

Entirely compatible with Human Rights (Pye v UK) on both sides of the equation (i.e. on the loss of land and gain of land)
Built upon principle of relativity of title.
o None of us own land, the crown owns the land. We have only title to land: The person with the best title is entitled to immediate possession.
Reasons for adverse possession:
o 1) Originally used to settle ownership disputes - didn't always have title documents, the person in possession of the land would settle ownership disputes.
o 2) It quietens disputes - it brings them eventually to a close.
o 3) It helps legitimise reality. It brings legitimacy to the person who is using the land.
o 4) Encourages the economic use of a scarce resource
 Sometimes this is clearly true (Lambeth Council has hundreds of dilapidated properties that are not used which people regularly move in to)
 Sometimes this is clearly not true Pye v Graham it is closer to Land Theft
Claimant must prove two things:
o 1) Factual possession - in controlling/managing the land exclusively for themselves (fences, locks, etc)
 Minimal acts of possession required in rural windswept area: Red House Farms v Catchpole
 Thorpe v Frank (2019) - Meaning of "factual possession" is context driven. Look for acts that an owner might do. In this case, laying paving slabs was enough.
o 2) An intention to possess for one's own benefit (Slade J
in Powell v. McFarlane (1979)). NB not an intention to own.
 If squatter acknowledges registered owner then there cannot be AP: Lambeth v Blackburn
 Clowes Developments v. Walters (2005), in which the claimant's belief - even if mistaken - that the land was held under a licence meant that they simply could not have the relevant intention to possess.
 Pye v Graham : 'necessary intent is an intent to possess not to own and an intention to exclude the paper owner only so far as is reasonably possible'
 Evidence:
 enclosing land by a fence may both constitute the act of possession and demonstrate the intention to possess (Moran), as might changing locks to a flat (Blackburn) or grazing animals within an enclosed field (Pye),

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