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Thompson's Modern Land Law

Thompson's Modern Land Law (8th edn)

Martin George and Antonia Layard
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date: 31 March 2023

p. 1926. Adverse Possessionlocked

p. 1926. Adverse Possessionlocked

  • Martin GeorgeMartin GeorgeProfessor of Land Law, City, University of London
  •  and Antonia LayardAntonia LayardTutor and Fellow in Law, St. Anne's College; Professor of Law, University of Oxford


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 is not true, however, under the Land Registration Act 2002, and so this chapter deals with 1) the question of how adverse possession is established in all cases, and 2) the question of the effect of an adverse possession claim in both the unregistered and registered systems.

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