Rhondda Cynon Taff Borough Council v Watkins: CA 12 Feb 2003

Land had been purchased compulsorily, but the respondent unlawfully returned to possession in 1966, and now claimed title by adverse possession. The Council executed a vesting deed poll in 1988. The Council asserted that he could not be in adverse possession of his own land.
Held: ‘anyone who has possession of land can maintain an action for possession against anyone who does not have a superior title to be in possession. Mr Watkins had a right to possession which was superior to anyone else’s right to possess with one exception – the Council : the Council’s right to possession stemming from statute trumped his right to possession stemming from his paper title. Had the council brought an action for possession against him in April of 1966 it would have won. It follows that the Council’s right of action accrued in 1966’ The council relied upon the deed poll, saying that there was no applicable statutory provision for the transfer of the land and that therefore the deed poll was open to them. There had been no reason for the defendant to have challenged the deed poll, and the limitation period was not restarted. The deed poll had been executed at a time when the council no longer intended to use the land for the purpose of the original compulsory purchase, and the deed poll was invalid. The landowner’s appeal succeeded.


Lord Justice Schiemann Lady Justice Arden Mr Justice Aikens


[2003] EWCA Civ 129




Limitation Act 1980 15, Acquisition of Land (Authorisation Procedure) Act 1946, Lands Clauses Consolidation Act 1845


England and Wales


ApprovedBuckinghamshire County Council v Moran CA 13-Feb-1989
The parties’ respective properties were separated by a fence or hedge and the true owner had no access to the disputed land. In 1967 the Defendants’ predecessors in title began to maintain the land by mowing the grass and trimming the hedges and . .
CitedGrice and another v Dudley Corporation ChD 1958
An authority serving a notice to treat no longer has a statutory power to acquire land in circumstances where the order under which the notice had been served was for the acquisition of land for specific purposes which the authority had abandoned. . .
CitedMercer v Liverpool, St Helen’s and South Lancashire Railway HL 1904
. .
CitedTiverton and North Devon Company v Loosemore 1884
After entry onto land under a compulsory purchase order, the Council had a right to possession even though it had been forced out of possession immediately after entry. . .
CitedMercer v Liverpool St Helens and South Lancashire Railway 1903
Stirling J: ‘Now at law a contract for the sale of land creates merely a personal obligation between the vendor and purchaser and does not bind the land; in equity such a contract binds the land and that not only as against the vendor, but also as . .
CitedZ And Others v The United Kingdom ECHR 10-May-2001
Four children complained that, for years before they were taken into care by the local authority, its social services department was well aware that they were living in filthy conditions and suffering ‘appalling’ neglect in the home of their . .
CitedClark v University of Lincolnshire and Humberside CA 14-Apr-2000
A student had been failed after being falsely accused of cheating, but the academic review board, on remarking the paper marked it as zero.
Held: Where a University did not have the supervisory jurisdiction of a visitor, a breach of contract . .
CitedRegina v Northumbrian Water Ltd Ex Parte Able UK Ltd QBD 18-Dec-1995
A notice to treat on compulsory purchase can be withdrawn even after possession has been taken. The acquiring authority acquires an equitable interest in such land when the compensation has been assessed. . .
CitedCapital Investments Ltd v Wednesfield Urban District Council ChD 12-Feb-1964
The council set out to acquire two plots of land for development for housing. After the process had begun, it was decided that some of the land should be uised for educational purposes. A Land Charge had been served but the matter not completed. A . .
Lists of cited by and citing cases may be incomplete.


Updated: 07 June 2022; Ref: scu.179588