Lord 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 shewn to have been done on any part of that tract by the barons or their agents which was not lawful unless the barons were owners of that spot on which it was done is evidence that they were in possession as owners of that spot on which it was done. No one such act is conclusive, and the weight of each act as evidence depends on the circumstances; one very important circumstance as to the weight being, whether the act was such and so done that those who were interested in disputing the ownership would be aware of it. And all that tends to prove possession as owners of parts of the tract tends to prove ownership of the whole tract; provided there is such a common character of locality as would raise a reasonable inference that if the barons possessed one part as owners they possessed the whole, the weight depending on the nature of the tract, what kind of possession could be had of it, and what the kind of possession proved was. This is what is very clearly explained by Lord Wensleydale (then Baron Parke) in Jones v Williams. And as the weight of evidence depends on rules of common sense, I apprehend that this is as much the law in a Scotch as in an English Court. And the weight of the aggregate of many such pieces of evidence taken together is very much greater than the sum of the weight of each such piece of evidence taken separately.’


Lord Blackburn


(1879) 4 App Cas 770




CitedJones v Williams ExcC 1837
A four-judge of the Court was asked as to the admissibility of evidence in a case as to trespass upon the bed of a river where title was uncertain and where the dispute was whether the claimant or defendant owned the very part of land upon which 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 . .
CitedLord Advocate v Lord Lovat 1880
Lord O’Hagan considered the nature of possession as regards land: ‘As to possession, it must be considered in every case with reference to the peculiar circumstances. The acts, implying possession in one case, may be wholly inadequate to prove it in . .
CitedHiggs 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 . .
CitedBarton v The Church Commissioners for England ChD 15-Dec-2008
The commissioners claimed a right by prescription to all fish to be taken in a stretch of the River Wye. The claimant was to moor a barge on the river.
Held: The court explained the nature and legal status of fisheries in the law going back to . .
Lists of cited by and citing cases may be incomplete.


Updated: 17 May 2022; Ref: scu.267380