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The Land Registration Act 2002 heralds major changes to the law and procedures regarding adverse possession

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Introduction

The Land Registration Act 2002 heralds major changes to the law and procedures regarding adverse possession. To what extent do you feel that the traditional justifications for adverse possession in English land law cannot be supported in a system of land registration? Discuss if the recent legislative reforms will achieve a balance between the rights of the owner of the paper title and those of a squatter? The law of adverse possession or 'squatters' rights' is considered by many to be unfair. This rule evolved as method of dealing with uncertain boundaries, but in recent high profile cases it has been used to dispose owners of extremely valuable plots of land. Critics argue that dispossessing the true owner of a piece of land through long occupation goes against the principles of their system of land registration, and indeed Law Commission recently referred to it as 'sanctioning a theft of land'. Under the old regime, an adverse possessors (subject to certain criteria set out below), simply had to show at least 12 years of continuous occupation of the land to establish a legal title1. Furthermore, if it can be proved that the actual owner did not interrupted within that period, automatically he will considered as to be beneficial owner of the land, which was held on trust for him by the paper owner (i.e. the registered proprietor or the holder of the deeds in the case of unregistered land)2. This procedure may still available, under the transitional provision of the Land Registration Act 2002 (LRA 2002) to adverse possessors who had already achieved 12 years occupation at the date the act came into force 13 October 2003. This old system clearly cannot be supported in a system of land registration due to the laxity of its nature which simply give the ownership to anyone who adversely possess the land of the actual owner within 12 years. ...read more.

Middle

So, how such old regime can be sufficient to protect and give fair judgment to both parties. The LRA 1925 supported by the Limitation Act 1980 can be looked as only benefited the squatters whose in reality are not supposed and give any chances to acquire the title of the land which they already enjoyed for a long term without a permit from the true owner but yet still have those privileges under the old law. Therefore the coming of the LRA 2002 was gave a new life to the true owner to preserve the rights on their own land. But again, how far the rights of the true owner will be protected under this new law to achieve the balance with those of the squatters? The introduction of the LRA 2002 had revolutionized the law of adverse possession at least in respect of registered land. The relevant sections of LRA 2002 came into force on 13 October 2003. Under those provisions it is no longer possible for a prudent landowner to be dispossessed without his knowledge, and prudence in this context no loner involves the regular physical inspection of his land. Instead a landowner will be protected, provided he keeps his address updated at the Land Registry and is capable of understanding and acting upon simple notices. Section 15 of the Limitation Act 1980 no longer applies to registered land, and a registered proprietor's title to land cannot be extinguished by any adverse possession so long as it falls to be considered under the new scheme. The essence of that scheme is to provide an 'early warning' system that a squatter is about to acquire the right to be registered as the proprietor of land, and to provide the landowner with a period in which to take action to prevent his losing that land. Once squatter has been in adverse possession of land for 10 years, he acquires the right to apply to the Land Registry to be registered as the proprietor of it. ...read more.

Conclusion

In other words, the effectiveness of LRA 2002 cannot be fully proved for the time being since it just solely implemented on 13 October 2006 without any insertion of LRA 1925. However, it should be noted that the provisions established under this new law are seems to be more friendly towards the landowner where at the end of the day the balance between the successful claims of the squatter and those rights of the true owner can be achieved. But one thing that clearly reflected from the enforcement of LRA 2002 plus with the 'rights bring home' through the passing of Human Rights Act 1998 is that the privileges of those squatters to possess the land from the true owner are weaken from time to time. It is not impossible that one may come where the law regarding to adverse possession will be extinct from the UK land registration system. Its all depend on how the true owners acting decisively and smartly upon the attempt of those squatters to seize their ownership on the land. They should use wisely everything that had been provided in front of them in order to preserve their rights from being continuously violated. 1 s 15 of the Limitation Act 1980 2 s 75 of the Land Registration Act 1925 3 Powell v Mcfarlane (1979) 38 P & CR 452 4 Buckinghamshire County Council v Moran (1988) 86 LGR 472 5 [1988] 3 All ER 129 6 [1990] Ch 623 7 [2001] 2 All ER 238 8 Re Jolly, Gathercole v Norfolk [1900] All ER Rep 286 applied 9 Following the judgment of Slade J in Powell v Mcfarlane 10 In paragraph 5 of Schedule 6 of LRA 2002 11 In Schedule 12 12 By section 17 of the Limitation Act 1980 13 13 October 2003 until 13 October 2006 14 Sitting as a deputy High Court Judge 15 [2005] 14 EGCS 129 (Ch D) 16 Peaceful enjoyment of possessions 17 JA Pye (Oxford) Ltd v Graham [2002] UKHL 30, [2002] 3 All ER 865 ?? ?? ?? ?? 1 ...read more.

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