London Borough of Lambeth v Blackburn: CA 14 Jun 2001

The appellant had broken into an empty council owned flat, and subsequently occupied it. After twelve years the authority obtained a court order for possession. The court had held that the appellant had not had a sufficient animus possidendi since he had not at any time expected to live there for as more than a temporary expedient. He succeeded on appeal. The tenant had removed a padlock and provided his own Yale lock. Any inspection would have revealed an intention to assert ownership against the world. That he would have negotiated with the council if they had contacted him was not enough to defeat the claim. There was nothing in the appellants evidence to contradict the assertion of possession.
Clarke LJ said: ‘It is not perhaps immediately obvious why the authorities have required a trespasser to establish an intention to possess as well as actual possession in order to prove the relevant adverse possession. It seems to me that the answer lies in the fact that the possession must be adverse, that is adverse to the interest of the paper owner. It can only be adverse if the possession is apparent to the owner; that is, if it is manifest to the owner that the trespasser intends to maintain possession against the whole world including the owner. That does not mean that it must in fact be known to the owner, but that it must be manifested to him so that, if he were present at the property he would be aware that the trespasser had taken possession of it and had intended to keep others out.’ and
‘It is thus of crucial importance that the trespasser’s acts must be unequivocal. They must make it clear to the owner, if present at the land, that he intended to exclude the owner, as Slade J put it ‘as best he can” and ‘I would not for part think it appropriate to strain to hold that a trespasser who had established factual possession of the property for the necessary 12 years did not have the animus possidendi identified in the cases. I express that view for two reasons. The first is that the requirement that there be a sufficient manifestation of the intention provides protection for landowners and the second is that once it is held that the trespasser has factual possession it will very often be the case that he can establish the manifested intention.’


Lord Justice Clarke, Lord Justice Judge, Lord Justice Laws


Gazette 21-Jun-2001, [2001] EWCA Civ 912, (2001) 82 P and CR 494




England and Wales


Grant of LeaveLondon Borough of Lambeth v Blackburn CA 10-Apr-2001
Renewed application for leave to appeal – granted. . .
CitedPowell v McFarlane ChD 1977
Intention to Establish Adverse Possession of Land
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 . .

Cited by:

Full AppealLondon Borough of Lambeth v Blackburn CA 10-Apr-2001
Renewed application for leave to appeal – granted. . .
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 . .
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 . .
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 . .
Lists of cited by and citing cases may be incomplete.

Land, Limitation

Updated: 01 June 2022; Ref: scu.160096