Attorney-General v Tomline (No 3): CA 1880

The Crown claimed land by adverse possession. It had continued in possession for many years after a licence had expired.
Held: The Crown had acquired a fee simple by adverse possession, and not simply a copyhold title. James LJ: ‘From the time of the determination of Mair’s tenancy there was a wrongful possession of it, and there is nothing whatever to exclude the operation of the Statute of Limitations. There appears to me to be no ground whatever for saying that the Crown has not a freehold acquired by adverse possession. Whether such a title would have been acquired before 1833 Act it is not necessary to inquire, but whether there was adverse possession in the old sense of the words or not, there has been such a cesser of the possession of the rightful owner as to confer a title under that statute.’
Cotton LJ said: ‘the title of the Plaintiffs simply rests on possession, and prima facie a title by possession is a freehold and not a copyhold title.’


James LJ, Cotton LJ, Thesiger LJ


(1880) 15 ChD 150


Real Property Limitation Act 1833


England and Wales


Appeal FromAttorney-General v Tomline (No 3) ChD 1877
For more than 20 years the Crown had been in possession of land forming part of a manor in Suffolk owned in fee simple by Colonel Tomline, who then entered the land in order to dig out mineral material (coprolites-fossilised dinosaur dung). The . .

Cited by:

CitedRoberts v Swangrove Estates Ltd and Another ChD 14-Mar-2007
The court heard preliminary applications in a case asserting acquisition of land by adverse possession, the land being parts of the foreshore of the Severn Estuary.
Held: A person may acquire title to part of the bed of a tidal river by . .
Lists of cited by and citing cases may be incomplete.


Updated: 01 May 2022; Ref: scu.267384