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Land law of purchased house

Assignment Question.

In 1980 Miss Twigg purchased a house. The house had a rectangular garden that was 30 feet wide and stretched 70 feet behind the house. The property was bounded on both sides by brick walls and at the end of the garden by a broken down fence. Beyond the fence there was a plot of land, 30 foot square, which belonged to the local council. This plot abutted on the highway and the council intended to convert it into a lay-by. In 1980 the plot was bounded on three sides by hedges and trees and it consisted largely of bracken, rough grass and rubbish thrown over the hedge from the road. In 1984 Miss Twigg removed the broken down fence, cleared away the rubbish and began to get rid of the bracken and rough grass. In 1985 Miss Twigg died, leaving the house to her cousin, Molly. In 1986 Molly moved into the house and she immediately built a fence along three sides of the plot (including the side adjoining the highway) as she wanted both to prevent her dogs running out into the road at the back and to deter people throwing rubbish into the plot from the road. Late in 1997 the council decided to proceed with its lay lay-by-plan and it wrote to inform Molly of its decision.

Advice Molly.

What would Molly’s position have been if:

Miss Twigg removed the broken down fence, cleared away the rubbish and began to get rid of the bracken and rough grass in the year 2000 and subsequently she died in the following year leaving the house to Molly. In 2002 Molly moved into the house and immediately built a fence along the three sides of the plot(for similar reasons as the facts above). In 2003, the council decided to proceed with its lay-by-plan and it wrote to inform Molly of its decision.

Essential Reading

  • Pye JA (Oxford) Ltd v Graham[2003] 1 AC 419; [2002] 3 All ER 865; [2001] 83 P & CR 23
  • Family Housing Association v Donnellan [2002] 1 P & CR 449 (per Park J)
  • Powell v McFarlane [1979] 38 P & CR 452
  • Buckinghamshire County Council v Moran[1990] Ch 623; [1989] 3 WLR 152
  • Limitation Act 1980, Section 15(1)
  • Land Registration Act 1925, Sections 75(1),(2);
  • Law Commission No.271, ‘Land Registration for the Twenty First Century – A Conveyancing Revolution’
  • Land Registration Act 2002, Sections 96(1), (3); Schedule 6
  • European Convention on Human Rights, Article 1 and the Human Rights Act 1998

Further Reading

  • Rhys, O, ‘Adverse Possession, Human Rights and Judicial Heresy’ [2002] Conv 470
  • M P Thompson, ‘Adverse Possession : The Abolition of Heresies’ [2002] Conv 480
  • Radley-Gardner, O and Harpum, C, ‘Adverse Possession and the Intention to Possess: A Reply’ [2001] Conv 155
  • Davies, C.J, ‘Informal acquisition and loss of rights in land: what justifies the doctrines?’ [2000] 20 Legal Studies 198

Textbook References

  • MacKenzie, JA and Phillips, M, Textbook on Land Law, 10th ed., Oxford University Press,2004.
  • Gray, K and Gray, S F, Elements of Land Law, 4th ed.,Oxford University Press, 2005.
  • Burn, E H, Cheshire & Burn’s Modern Law of Real Property, 16th ed. Butterworths, 2000.

NB: You are entitled to do your basic reading relying upon any other text book/s not highlighted in the list above. So long as you have grasped the basic foundational principles governing adverse possession, that is all that is required!!!

Notes To Candidates

  • Students are expected to conduct an in-depth research trail by reading all the case-law, statutory provisions and articles identified in the essential and further reading categories. Upon reading these materials, students are reminded to maintain originality throughout the essay.
  • All materials and resources applied in the discussion must be acknowledged and students are required to demonstrate a critical and analytical approach in the problem question.
  • A student must be in a position to state the law prior to the Land Registration Act 2002 and now under the current law in relation to the appropriate rules and principles in adverse possession. A thorough understanding of the relevant case-laws is crucial in demonstrating the various arguments raised by the respective judges in the pertinent aspects of adverse possession.
  • There is now a need to discuss the impact of Pye v Graham upon adverse possession and more importantly to consider critically the Pye v Graham case in relation to the Human Rights jurisprudence. Here the student will have to consider in detail the judgments of the Court of Appeal and House of Lords in this regard.
  • A good understanding of some of the earlier cases which establish significant principles of law in adverse possession must be thoroughly analysed.

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