Bligh v Martin: ChD 1968

The paper owner of the disputed land had grazed cattle on it in winter, and denied that the defendant claiming adverse possession had been in continuous occupation.
Held: Even though the adverse possessor had received rent from the real owner, who had been then unaware of his ownership and became the tenant of the land, the adverse possessor could still successfully claim the land: ‘Both counsel pointed out that where land is subject to a tenancy, the landlord and the tenant have each, in correct legal parlance, possession of the land, though in different senses . . It seems to me that for the purpose of adverse possession of freehold land under the Limitation Act, 1939, the land should be regarded as in the possession of one or other of the two parties concerned, i.e. the landlord or the tenant; and it seems to me that subsection (3) designates the landlord as the relevant party for this purpose. On that footing, it follows that the plaintiff, having been in receipt of rent during this summer period, remained throughout the period in adverse possession of the land’.
With an intention to control the land, the adverse possessor actually believing himself or herself to be the true owner, is quite sufficient. Pennycuick J said: ‘It would, I think, be quite wrong to regard the owner of arable farmland as having been dispossessed of that land because during certain winter months he personally makes no use of it and some other person puts cattle upon it.’
Pennycuick J
[1968] 1 All ER 1157, [1968] 1 WLR 804
Cited by:

  • Cited – Zarb and Another v Parry and Another CA 15-Nov-2011
    The parties disputed the position of the boundary between their neighbouring properties. The appellant Z had succeeded in establishing that the the boundary was as they decribed on paper, but the respondents had succeeded in their claim for adverse . .
    [2011] EWCA Civ 1306, [2011] WLR (D) 331
  • Cited – Chambers v London Borough of Havering CA 20-Dec-2011
    chambers-HaveringCA2011
    The defendant appealed against an order for him to surrender possession of land he had claimed by adverse possession. The Council was the registered proprietor. The defendant said he had used the land since 1981 for dumping of motor vehicle parts. . .
    [2011] EWCA Civ 1576

These lists may be incomplete.
Updated: 01 December 2020; Ref: scu.449373