Higgs v Nassauvian Ltd: PC 1975

A claim was made for possession of two plots of land, one some 92 and the other some 12 acres. The land was part arable, part pine barren and not fenced or otherwise enclosed.
Held: Sir Harry Gibbs said: ‘It is clearly settled that acts of possession done on parts of a tract of land to which a possessory title is sought may be evidence of possession of the whole.’ and as to the case of Blantyre, ‘This rule is not applicable to a question of undefined and disputed boundary (Clark v. Elphinstone (1880) 6 6 App.Cas. 164, 170-171; West Bank Estates Ltd. v. Arthur [1967] 1 AC 665, 679-680), but this does not mean that acts done on part of the land are only relevant to prove possession of the whole if the land is enclosed by a wall or other physical barrier. The property claimed by possession may be sufficiently defined in other ways, e.g. where the claim is to trees in a belt of woodland (Stanley v. White (1811) 14 East 332), to the bed or foreshores of a river (Jones v. Williams) (1837) 2 MandW 326 and Lord Advocate v. Lord Blantyre, 4 App.Cas. 770) or to the right to fish in a river (Lord Advocate v. Lord Lovat (1880) 5 App.Cas. 273, 289). In the present case, although the two tracts were not physically enclosed, their boundaries were known and undisputed, and possession of the whole tracts might have been established by appropriate evidence of acts done on parts of them. The question was one of fact and degree and depended upon a consideration of all the circumstances of the case.’


Sir Harry Gibbs


[1975] AC 464, [1975] 2 WLR 72, [1975] 1 All ER 95


CitedLord Advocate v Lord Blantyre HL 1879
The defender claimed ownership of land based on possession from time immemorial of foreshore and banks in the River Clyde of some 5 miles and 2 miles respectively in length and spread over some 750 acres.
Held: Lord Blackburn said: ‘Every act . .

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.267381