Treloar v Nute: CA 1976

The judge in the County Court had rejected a claim to adverse possession by a defendant who together with his father had done a number of acts, some more trivial than others, in and around a disputed gully and adjacent land leading eventually to the commencement of construction of a bungalow which precipitated the proceedings. Acts relied upon included the tipping of soil into the gully and the levelling of uneven ground. The judge had rejected the defendant’s claim as his actions and those of his predecessor had not initially inconvenienced the plaintiff title owner.
Held: The judge had found that the defendant’s father had taken possession as early as 1961 and, looked at overall, there had been sufficient possession over the period in issue to defeat the plaintiff’s paper title. The defendant’s appeal was allowed. If the paper owner was at one stage in possession of the land, but the squatter’s subsequent occupation of it in law constitutes possession, the squatter must have ‘dispossessed’ the true owner for the purposes of Schedule 1, paragraph 1.
Sir John Pennycuick said: ‘The particular acts found by the judge are we think rather on the borderline of what can properly be regarded as constituting possession, always apart from the consideration of adverse possession. Whether or not a person has taken possession of land is a question of fact depending on all the particular circumstances . . In the present case the disputed land is extremely small, about one-seventh of an acre and admitted of very limited agricultural use, but would be a convenient site for a small house or bungalow. The defendant’s father did put it to some small agricultural use by grazing two cows and a yearling. Much more important, in our view, is the change in the surface of the land by placing soil in the gully, thereby setting in train the levelling of the land upon which a bungalow could be built. It seems to us that these acts were sufficient to support a finding of possession and indeed on the material before us we would be disposed to reach the same conclusion. The other acts relied upon are of very little weight.’ And ‘if a squatter takes possession of land belonging to another and remains in possession for 12 years to the exclusion of the owner, that represents adverse possession and accordingly at the end of the 12 years the title of the owner is extinguished. That is the plain meaning of the statutory provisions’ ‘

Stamp and Ormrod LJJ and Sir John Pennycuick
[1976] 1 WLR 1295
England and Wales
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 . .

Cited by:
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 . .
CitedBowen and Others v Isle of Wight Council ChD 3-Dec-2021
What makes a road a Road?
The Court was asked whether a Road was a ‘road’ for the purposes of the 1984 Act’
Held: It has often been said that the public access mentioned in the definition of ‘road’ must be both actual access and legal or lawful access. However, simple . .

Lists of cited by and citing cases may be incomplete.

Land, Limitation

Updated: 10 December 2021; Ref: scu.259702