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Thompson's Modern Land Law

Thompson's Modern Land Law (7th edn)

Martin George and Antonia Layard
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date: 31 March 2023

p. 1816. Adverse Possessionlocked

p. 1816. Adverse Possessionlocked

  • Martin GeorgeMartin GeorgeAssociate Professor of Property Law, University of Leicester
  •  and Antonia LayardAntonia LayardProfessor of Law, University of Bristol


According to Section 17 of England’s Limitation Act 1980, a person who loses the right to recover possession of land also loses his title to that land. The corollary is that the person who takes possession of the land acquires ownership rights. In cases where title is unregistered, English Land Law provides that ownership of land or, more accurately, estates in land, is a relative concept. In a dispute over entitlement to possession of land, the court must determine which of the two claimants has a better right to possess, rather than who is the owner. This chapter explains legal aspects of possessing land titles in England. After providing an overview of land ownership and possession, it discusses the rationale of the statute of limitation, the link between registered land and human rights, limitation under the Limitation Act 1980, the accrual of a right of action, and adverse possession.

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