It is essential to note that in Pyne (Oxford) Ltd v Graham, Pyne owned a number of fields adjoining a farm owned by Graham. At first, the Grams used the fields under a written licence given by Pyne in 1984. The Grahams requested that those licences be extended in 1986 but the request was not answered. The Grahams continued to use the land from 1986 until 1997 when Mr Graham registered a caution against the property based on his rights under adverse possession. Pyne challenged this, arguing that the Grahams had not gained rights under adverse possession.
The case was decided in the Grahams’ favour by the High court but the judgment was reversed by the court of Appeal. The House of Lords upheld the decision of Neuberger J in the High court that the Grahams had established rights over the land. It should be noted that some acts may be equivocal meaning that they can be referable to an intention to possess and equally they could be evidence of enjoyment with no thought about a future intention to possess. If adverse possession is successful on unregistered land, the paper title owner is prevented from suing and his title is effectively extinguished.
Any rights in existence against the title will continue to be effective as the squatter will not be a bona fide purchaser for value of the land. As for Registered land, the acquiring of rights is not automatic for the squatter. Before the 2002 Act, the paper title owner was deemed to hold the estate on trust for the squatter once time had run against him. Under the Act, the law is different as the registered owner does not lose title simply because someone takes possession of the land for a fixed period of time.
“ … .no period of limitation under section 15 of the Limitation Act 1980… .shall run against any person, other than a chargee, in relation to an estate in land or rent charge the title to which is registered. ” 7The squatter can only successfully obtain rights where he successfully applies to the registrar for registration. But this process is carried out only after the paper owner has been notified and has a chance to register any objections to the registration.
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