Roberts 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 adverse possession notwithstanding the existence of the public right of navigation. The court made findings as to the several plots of land. Lindsay J said: ‘factual possession signifies an appropriate degree of physical control having the following characteristics, namely that it must be a single and exclusive possession (though there can be a single possession exercised by or on behalf of several persons jointly); that if the squatter is in possession the paper owner cannot be; that what acts constitute a sufficient degree of exclusive physical control must depend on the circumstances including, in particular, the nature of the land and the manner in which land of that nature is commonly used or enjoyed; that what must be shown as constituting factual possession is that the alleged possessor has been dealing with the land in question as an occupying owner might have been expected to deal with it and that no one else has done so and that factual possession must be sufficiently clear that, if the owner were present on the land, he would appreciate that the squatter was dispossessing him.’
Lindsay J
[2007] EWHC 513 (Ch), [2008] 2 WLR 1111, [2007] 2 PandCR 17
Limitation Act 1980 15(1)
England and Wales
CitedDes Barres and Another v Shey 1873
The defendants resisted a claim for possession asserting adverse possession from 1815 or 1832. This included possession during periods over which they had granted tenancies or licences but where the tenants or licensees had been in occupation . .
CitedJ 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 . .
CitedMichael Batt Charitable Trust v Adams ChD 2001
The court looked at what was required to establish adverse possession in a claim for land. Laddie J said: ‘The only factor that appears, at first sight, to point in the direction to exclude anyone, is the fact that Mr Higgs maintained and repaired . .
CitedPowell 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: ‘In the absence of evidence to the . .
CitedSze To Chun Keung v Kung Kwok Wai David and Lam Chak Man Estate Limited PC 27-Jun-1997
(Hong Kong) The respondents were registered owners of land occupied by the appellant who claim title by adverse possession after entry in 1955. Subsequently the claim resided with the Crown.
Held: ‘on the facts as pleaded, the land has been . .
CitedBuckinghamshire 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 . .
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 . .
CitedPowell 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: ‘In the absence of evidence to the . .
CitedRains v Buxton 1880
Fry J said: ‘The difference between dispossession and the discontinuance of possession might be expressed in this way: the one is where a person comes in and drives out the others from possession, the other case is where the person in possession . .
CitedLord Advocate v Young 1887
Lord Watson said: ‘It is, in my opinion, practically impossible to lay down any precise rule in regard to the character and amount of possession necessary in order to give a riparian proprietor a prescriptive right to foreshore. Each case must . .
CitedAttorney General v Emerson 1891
Forms of fishing which involve fixtures into the soil of the foreshore are more likely to be regarded as acts of possession of the soil itself than would be more ephemeral forms of fishing. . .
CitedNesbitt v Mablethorpe Urban District Council 1918
Where a squatter lets a tenant of his into possession the consequent acceptance of rent by the squatter is to be taken as evidence of possession by the squatter; . .
CitedHughes v Cook and Another CA 14-Feb-1994
Adverse possession will accrue even if the claimant believed and acted on the mistaken belief that the land was already his. That belief was inconsistent with ownership by others. Beldam LJ said that counsel’s argument was fallacious: ‘. . in the . .
CitedRed House Farms (Thorndon) Ltd v Catchpole CA 1977
Cairns LJ said: ‘The authorities make it clear that what constitutes possession of any particular piece of land must depend upon the nature of the land and what it is capable of use for: see, for example, Tecbild Ltd v Chamberlain (1969) 20 P and CR . .
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 . .
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 . .
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 . .
CitedFriend v Duke of Richmond 1667
Two subjects brought action for ejectment. The defendant took the point that the claimant could not sue in ejectment. It was necessary to allege entry by a tenant. There could not be an entry, as the Crown had already obtained a judgment based on an . .
CitedAttorney-General v Tomline (No 3) ChD 1877
For more than 20 years the Crown had been in possession of land forming part of a manor in Suffolk owned in fee simple by Colonel Tomline, who then entered the land in order to dig out mineral material (coprolites-fossilised dinosaur dung). The . .
CitedAttorney-General v Tomline (No 3) CA 1880
The Crown claimed land by adverse possession. It had continued in possession for many years after a licence had expired.
Held: The Crown had acquired a fee simple by adverse possession, and not simply a copyhold title. James LJ: ‘From the time . .
CitedHughes v Griffin and Another CA 1969
Possession of land is never adverse if it can be referred to a lawful title. . .
CitedBP Properties Ltd v Buckler CA 31-Jul-1987
The putative owner of the paper title wrote to the defendant who occupied the relevant property in October 1974 as follows: ‘Since we wish to help you as much as possible we are prepared to allow you to remain in occupation of the house and garden . .
CitedSt Marylebone Property Co Ltd v Fairweather HL 16-Apr-1962
To defeat a defence of adverse possession, the plaintiff must succeed in an action which itself had been commenced within the twelve year period. A squatter does not succeed to the title that he has disturbed: by sufficiently long adverse possession . .
CitedRosenberg v Cook 1881
A squatter’s title is a freehold from day one of his possession. . .
CitedAgency Co Ltd v Short 1888
Where there has been insufficient adverse possession, it ‘does not leave behind it any cloud on the title of the rightful owner.’ . .
CitedStening v Abrahams ChD 1931
The landlord complained that the tenant was in breach of his covenant not to part with possession of any part of the premises where the tenant had so organised things that he had effectively excluded himself from part of the demised premises.
CitedTobin v The Queen 1864
The Commander of a Queen’s ship, employed in the suppression of the slave trade on the coast of Africa, seized a schooner belonging to the suppliant, which he suspected of being engaged in slave traffic. It being inconvenient to take the ship to . .
CitedFeather v The Queen 1865
Mr Feather had invented way of protecting ships against shot and obtained an exclusive patent. The Crown then had a ship constructed in a way that infringed the patent. As patentee Mr Feather asked for recompense; by petition of right he asked for . .
CitedFowley Marine (Emsworth) Ltd v Gafford 1968
A paper title owner of land is deemed to be in possession of the fee simple unless and until someone else acquires possession of it . .
CitedM v Home Office and Another; In re M HL 27-Jul-1993
A Zairian sought asylum, but his application, and an application for judicial review were rejected. He was notified that he was to be returned to Zaire, but then issued new proceedings for judicial review. The judge said that his removal should be . .

Cited by:
CitedCrown Estate Commissioners v Roberts and Another ChD 13-Jun-2008
The defendant claimed ownership as Lord Marcher of St Davids of historical rights in foreshores in Pembrokeshire. The claimants sought removal of his cautions against first registration.
Held: Lewison J explored the history of manorial . .
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 . .
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 . .
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 . .

Lists of cited by and citing cases may be incomplete.
Updated: 26 October 2021; Ref: scu.250606