Tower 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 demolished in 1960, and the land enclosed. By former tenants. The land was registered in 1978. In 1977, the then tenants, placed a lockable gate in the boundary fence and had used it as part of their premises until 1989. The defendants acquired the freehold of their own property in 1993. They had part completed the building of an extension on the land, but stopped when the claimant threatened proceedings.
Held: A tenant who encroaches on a neighbour’s land is presumed to act for the benefit of his landlord. The making of a grant by the authority to restore the wall was not done as owner of the land but as a public authority. The judge had erred in find that adverse possession had not been established up to 1995. The correspondence and offer to purchase the freeholder’s interest by the landlord would operate to defeat the landlord’s claim, however that acknowledgment was not made by the person then in possession, and was ineffective. The possessory title had been transferred with the main property when the defendants purchsed it. Appeal allowed.

Thorpe LJ, Wall LJ, Neuberger LJ
[2005] EWCA Civ 923
Limitation Act 1980 15
England and Wales
CitedKingsmill v Millard 20-Jun-1855
Parke B set out the doctrine that a tenant acquiring adjoining land by adverse possession acquires it on behalf of his landlord: ‘It is laid down in all the cases – whether the inclosed land is part of the waste, or belongs to the landlord or a . .
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 . .
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 . .
CitedSmirk v Lyndale Developments Ltd ChD 1975
The court considered the doctrine that a tenant acquiring title to land by adverse possession, did so on behalf of hs landlord.
Held: The cases demonstrated that ‘the law . . has got into something of a tangle’, but the doctrine, at least as . .
CitedLittledale 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 . .
CitedMayor and Burgesses of London Borough of Hounslow v Anne Minchinton CA 19-Mar-1997
The defendant asserted title to a strip of land by adverse possession. The judge had held that the occupation by the claimant had been insufficient to establish possession.
Held: The use of the land as a garden for compost heaps and similar . .
CitedBritish Railways Board v G J Holdings Ltd 1974
There can be no adverse possession where the squatter’s use of the land was not inconsistent with the use intended by the paper owner. . .
CitedIn re River Steamer Company 1871
A without prejudice letter was written by a person claiming adverse possession of land to the paper owner offering to purchase the land. The paper owner said this was an acknowledgment of his title.
Held: The letter was written in the context . .
CitedColin Dawson Windows Ltd v Borough Council of King’s Lynn and West Norfolk, Howard CA 20-Jan-2005
In a claim for adverse possession, the court will readily infer the grant of a licence (so as to defeat an assertion that possession is adverse to the owner) during negotiations for the purchase or letting of land, where the negotiating purchaser or . .
CitedDoe d. Lewis v Rees 1834
Encroachments made by a tenant enured for the benefit of his landlord, ‘unless it appears clearly by some evidence at the time of the making of the encroachments that the tenant intended the encroachments for his own benefit . . ‘ . .
CitedDoe d. Croft v Tidbury 1854
. .
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 . .
CitedTabor v Godfrey 1895
Where a tenant occupies land adjacent to land demised to him by the landlord, he occupies it as additional to the tenancy, and subject to its terms. . .
CitedEdginton v Clark CA 1964
An offer to purchase the paper owner’s interest, even if made ‘subject to contract’, can be a sufficient acknowledgement of his title to defeat a claim for adverse possession. Upjohn LJ said: ‘If a man makes an offer to purchase freehold property, . .
CitedDoe d. Baddeley v Massey 1851
A paper owner, as a stranger to the landlord and tenant relationship, cannot invoke an acknowledgment by the squatter’s landlord. The doctrine is based on estoppel. ‘the landlord is thereby entitled against the tenant who took, but not against a . .
CitedWatcham v Attorney-General of the East Africa Protectorate PC 1919
The Watchams held land along the bank of the Nairobi River. It had been conveyed to them by the Crown by a certificate under the East African Land Regulations. The certificate gave the area transferred as ’66 3/4 acres, or thereabouts’, but included . .
CitedBeaulane Properties Ltd v Palmer ChD 23-Mar-2005
The paper owner sought possession of land. The defendant said he had acquired a possessory title. The land was registered.
Held: The claimant’s human rights under article 1 were engaged. To be justifiable, the interference in that right had to . .
CitedMalekshad v Howard de Walden Estates Limited HL 5-Dec-2002
A house and an adjoining building had been first demised under one lease, then separated vertically. Two separate residential properties now existed.
Held: The vertical division meant that the two houses could not be enfranchised as one under . .
CitedF L Schuler AG v Wickman Machine Tools Sales Limited HL 4-Apr-1973
The parties entered an agreement to distribute and sell goods in the UK. They disagreed as to the meaning of a term governing the termination of the distributorship.
Held: The court can not take into account the post-contractual conduct or . .

Cited by:
CitedChilds and Another v Vernon CA 16-Mar-2007
The parties disputed the boundary between their properties, alleging various trespasses. The judge ordered a single expert witness. The court had been unable to establish the line of the boundary from the conveyances or the Land Registry plans. . .

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Updated: 31 October 2021; Ref: scu.228924