Adverse possession can be founded on acts of criminal trespass

Adverse possession can be founded on acts of criminal trespass

How do the statutory provisions as to adverse possession of registered land and the criminal offence of squatting interact? The High Court decided the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act 2012 (LASPO 2012) criminalises trespass without affecting the operation of adverse possession.

Original news

Best v Chief Land Registrar [2014] EWHC 1370 (Admin)

A claim for judicial review raised, for the first time, the important question of whether the criminalising of trespass by ‘living in’ a residential building, pursuant to LASPO 2012, s 144(1) has prevented time running for applications for registration of title by adverse possession to registered land.

The Chief Land Registrar had decided that it does. Mr Best, claiming adverse possession of the property in question, contended that LASPO 2012, s 144 was never intended to have that effect on the registration of title and should not be construed so that it did.

On 27 November 2012, Mr Best applied to register title to the relevant property on the basis that he had been in adverse possession for the necessary period of ten years ending on the date of the application. His accompanying statutory declaration stated that in 1997 he had been working on a nearby property, the owner of which had told him that the last occupier of the then empty and vandalised property had died and that he had not seen her son since 1996.

He entered the property and did extensive work to it intending to make it his permanent residence. He moved in at the end of January 2012. He said that he had treated the house as his own since 2001. There

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About the author:
Joanna is a commercial property specialist. Prior to joining the LexisPSL Property team, she was a transactional lawyer. She qualified in 1995 at Shoosmiths and subsequently worked at Nabarro, Charles Russell, Bircham Dyson Bell and Pemberton Greenish. She has wide-ranging experience of all non-contentious property transactions, with a particular emphasis on landlord and tenant work.