J A Pye (Oxford) Ltd and Others v Graham and Another: HL 4 Jul 2002

The claimants sought ownership by adverse possession of land. Once the paper owner had been found, they indicated a readiness to purchase their interest. The court had found that this letter contradicted an animus possidendi. The claimant had overstayed the expiration of a grazing tenancy, and been asked to leave but had not been dispossessed.
Held: The claimant’s appeal was allowed. The issue was only whether or not the claimant had been in actual possession of the land – had the defendant squatter dispossessed the paper owner by going into ordinary possession of the land for the requisite period without the owner’s consent? Older cases relating to an idea of ‘non-adverse possession’ should not be followed. Actual possession for one own or another’s benefit was required. The intention needed was to possess, not necessarily to ‘own’ the land. The only question after the 1833 Act was whether the squatter had been in possession in the ordinary sense of that word for the requisite period without the consent of the owner. The requirement that the land is in the possession of a person in whose favour time can run is not directed to the nature of the possession, but to the capacity of the squatter or other person in possession of the land.
An offer to purchase the paper owner’s interest need not defeat a claim (Ocean Estates).
Lord Hope of Craighead discussed the claim under Human Rights. That question: ‘….is not an easy one, as one would have expected the law – in the context of a statutory regime where compensation is not available – to lean in favour of the protection of a registered proprietor against the actions of persons who cannot show a competing title on the register. Fortunately…….a much more rigorous regime has now been enacted in Schedule 6 to the 2002 Act. Its effect will be to make it much harder for a squatter who is in possession of registered land to obtain title against the wishes of the proprietor. The unfairness in the old regime which this case has demonstrated lies not in the absence of compensation, although that is an important factor, but in the lack of safeguards against oversight or inadvertence on the part of the registered proprietor.’

Lord Bingham of Cornhill, Lord Mackay of Clashfern, Lord Browne-Wilkinson, Lord Hope of Craighead and Lord Hutton
Times 05-Jul-2002, [2002] UKHL 30, [2002] 3 All ER 865, [2002] 3 WLR 221, [2003] 1 AC 419, [2002] NPC 92, [2002] HRLR 34, [2003] 1 P and CR 10, [2002] 28 EGCS 129, [2002] 2 P and CR DG22
House of Lords, Bailii
Limitation Act 1980 15 Sch 1 para 1 Sch 1 para 8, European Convention on Human Rights 1
England and Wales
Approved ‘Remarkable’Powell v McFarlane ChD 1977
A squatter had occupied the land and defended a claim for possession. The court discussed the conditions necessary to establish an intention to possess land adversely to the paper owner.
Held: Slade J said: ‘It will be convenient to begin by . .
DisapprovedLittledale v Liverpool College CA 1900
The mere storage of items in a property was insufficient to demonstrate the necessary intention to dispossess the rightful owner. It was a mere exercise of the rights under an easement. Enclosure of land is not necessarily decisive. Lord Lindley MR . .
DisapprovedLeigh v Jack CA 11-Dec-1879
The plaintiff’s predecessor in title (Mr Leigh) had laid out part of his estate as proposed streets to be known as Grundy Street and Napier Place. He conveyed to the defendant certain land described as being ‘bounded by’ Grundy Street and Napier . .
CitedOcean Estates Ltd v Pinder HL 1969
The court asked whether the sufficiency of adverse possession might be qualified either by the intentions of the paper owner or the squatter’s willingness to pay for their occupation if asked. Lord Diplock: ‘Where questions of title to land arise in . .
Appeal fromJ A Pye (Oxford) Ltd and Another v Caroline Graham and Another CA 6-Feb-2001
Where a tenant under a grazing license had stayed over after the end of the tenancy, and had been refused a renewed licence, and had continued to graze the land for over twelve years, the mere overstaying was not enough to evidence an animus . .
At first instanceJ A Pye and Another v Graham and Another ChD 14-Mar-2000
The fact alone of being prepared to take a licence of land would not defeat an application for adverse possession, but a request for a licence would be relevant. The adverse possession commenced from the time when the licence expired, given that a . .

Cited by:
Appealed toJ A Pye (Oxford) Ltd v South Gloucestershire District Council and Others CA 29-Mar-2001
Where there was an agreement between an applicant and the planning authority under section 106 of the new Act, with respect the undertaking of work in return for the grant of planning permission, there was no requirement for there to be a direct . .
CitedTopplan Estates Ltd v David Townley CA 27-Oct-2004
The registered proprietor of land appealed a finding that the defendant had established adverse possession of their land. The claimant had occupied it as part of his farm. Originally there had been a grazing tenancy. The tenancy was terminated, and . .
CitedTower Hamlets v Barrett and Another CA 19-Jul-2005
The defendant tenants appealed an order for them to surrender possession of land which they claimed had been acquired by adverse possession. The buildings, including one which shared a party wall with the building owned by the defendants had been . .
CitedChapman and Another v Godinn Properties Ltd and others CA 27-Jun-2005
Dispute over right of way over land subject to claim for possessory title. ‘But each case must turn on its own facts. In a case of this nature, the court must ask itself what it is that would be expected of somebody in possession of land of this . .
At House of LordsJ A Pye (Oxford) Ltd v The United Kingdom ECHR 15-Nov-2005
The claimants had been the registered proprietors of land, they lost it through the adverse possession of former tenants holding over. They claimed that the law had dispossessed them of their lawful rights.
Held: The cumulative effect of the . .
CitedInglewood Investments Company Ltd v Baker CA 8-Nov-2002
The court considered a claim for the adverse possesion of land.
Held: Dyson LJ said: ‘to establish a claim of adverse possession for the requisite period of 12 years it is necessary to establish: (1) actual possession; (2) an intention to . .
CitedAllen v Matthews CA 13-Mar-2007
The defendants appealed an order refusing title by adverse possession to registered land. They denied that the limitation period had been restarted by their solicitor’s letter acknowledging the title.
Held: The letter must be read as a whole. . .
CitedGodmanchester Town Council, Regina (on the Application of) v Secretary of State for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs HL 20-Jun-2007
The house was asked about whether continuous use of an apparent right of way by the public would create a public right of way after 20 years, and also whether a non overt act by a landowner was sufficient to prove his intention not to dedicate the . .
CitedClear Channel United Kingdom Ltd, Regina (on the Application of) v First Secretary of State and Another Admn 14-Oct-2004
The claimant sought a declaration that it had a tenancy for its occupation by an advertising station, and that it had protection under the 1954 Act. The defendant council said that only a licence had been granted.
Held: The grants included the . .
CitedJ A Pye (Oxford) Ltd v The United Kingdom ECHR 30-Aug-2007
UK Advers Possession Law – Not Compliant
The claimant had said that the UK law which allowed it to lose land by virtue of twelve year’s occupation by a squatter, interfered with its right to ownership of property.
Held: The UK law on adverse possession did comply with the Convention. . .
CitedOfulue and Another v Bossert CA 29-Jan-2008
The claimants appealed an order finding that the defendant had acquired their land by adverse possession. They said that the defendant had asserted in defence to possession proceedings that they were tenants, and that this contradicted an intent to . .
CitedNational Westminster Bank Plc v Ashe (Trustee In Bankruptcy of Djabar Babai) CA 8-Feb-2008
The mortgagees had made no payments under the charge for more than twelve years, and had remained in possession throughout. They argued that the bank were prevented from now seeking to enforce the charge. The bank argued that the possession had not . .
CitedRoberts v Crown Estate Commissioners CA 20-Feb-2008
The commissioners sought to claim title to a foreshore by adverse possession. The claimant asserted that he had acquired title in his capacity of Lord Marcher of Magor which had owned the bed of the estuary since the Norman Conquest, and that the . .
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 . .
CitedJohn Laing Construction Ltd v Amber Pass Ltd ChD 7-Apr-2004
The landlord resisted the exercise of a break clause saying that the entire premises had not been vacated. The difference was as to whether mere vacation was enough, or whether the tenant had to do some further positive act. The tenant had left . .
CitedJones v London Borough of Merton CA 16-Jun-2008
The court was asked ‘If a former secure tenant of a dwelling-house who has become a ‘tolerated trespasser’ in it decides to cease to occupy it, does his liability to pay mesne profits to his former landlord in respect of the dwelling-house cease . .
CitedLancashire County Council v Buchanan Admn 7-Nov-2007
The defendant estate agent was prosecuted for misdescribing the ability of his client to convey good title to the land offered. The seller did not initially have a registered possessory title to part of the land.
Held: The agent’s appeal . .
CitedSmith, Regina (on the Application of) v The Land Registry (Peterborough Office) Admn 13-Feb-2009
The applicant sought judicial review of the cancellation of his application for first registration of land by adverse possession. The application had been rejected because a public right of way existed through it, and the claimant had not shown the . .
CitedClarence House Ltd v National Westminster Bank Plc CA 8-Dec-2009
The defendant tenants, anticipating that the landlord might delay or refuse consent to a subletting entered into a ‘virtual assignment’ of the lease, an assignment in everything but the deed and with no registration. The lease contained a standard . .
CitedBaxter v Mannion ChD 18-Mar-2010
B appealed against an order for rectification against him of the land register returning ownership to M. B had obtained registration with possessory title, claiming to have kept horses on the field for many years in adverse possession of it. M had . .
CitedWilson and Another v Grainger ChD 4-Dec-2009
The claimants appealed against a decision of the Adjudicator that they had not acquired a piece of their neighbour’s land by adverse possession, on the basis that their use had been by virtue of an oral licence. The judge had found the occupation to . .
CitedThe Port of London Authority v Ashmore CA 4-Feb-2010
The Port sought to register ownership of the river bed and tidal foreshore. The defendant’s boat had been moored at a wharf, and he claimed adverse possession. The court was asked whether it was possible to acquire any title by adverse possession to . .
CitedStar Energy Weald Basin Ltd and Another v Bocardo Sa SC 28-Jul-2010
The defendant had obtained a licence to extract oil from its land. In order to do so it had to drill out and deep under the Bocardo’s land. No damage at all was caused to B’s land at or near the surface. B claimed in trespass for damages. It now . .
CitedSmith, Regina (on The Application of) v Land Registry (Peterborough Office) and Another CA 10-Mar-2010
The appellant had lived in a caravan on the verge of a byway and had been here for more than twelve years. He appealed against rejection of his request for possessory title. He said that there was no support in law for the maxim that adverse . .
CitedBalevents Ltd v Sartori ChD 29-Sep-2011
A strip of land had at one point been left aside for an anticipated road widening which never took place. The defendant had eventually obtained a registered possessory title to it. The claimant, owner of a neighbouring plot, now challenged that . .
CitedZarb 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 . .
CitedChambers v London Borough of Havering CA 20-Dec-2011
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. . .

Lists of cited by and citing cases may be incomplete.

Land, Limitation

Leading Case

Updated: 05 December 2021; Ref: scu.174187