Your Cart

Best v Chief Land Registrar [2015]

R (on the application of Best) v Chief Land Registrar [2015] EWCA Civ 17 deals with the concept of adverse possession in property law, specifically in the context of the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act 2012 (LASPO 2012) in England and Wales.


The case revolves around a piece of land known as Heron's Moor in Cornwall, England. The land had been vacant and vandalised since 1997, and the registered owner was believed to have passed away.

Mr Best entered the property in 2000 and started making repairs and other improvements with the intention of turning it into his home. In January 2012, Mr Best moved into the property, and in November of the same year, he applied to be registered as the legal owner of the property based on adverse possession. His claim was based on adverse possession, which requires occupying and possessing the land for a specified period (typically ten years) without the consent of the legal owner. The central legal issue in this case was whether Mr Best's occupation of the property, particularly after September 1, 2012, when Section 144 of LASPO 2012 came into effect, could still be considered adverse possession.


Section 144 of LASPO 2012 criminalises squatting in residential buildings. It makes it a criminal offence for a person to enter and live in a residential building as a trespasser, if he knows or ought to know that he is trespassing. The Land Registry rejected Mr Best's application for adverse possession on the basis that it relied on periods of adverse possession that involved a criminal offence under Section 144 of LASPO 2012. It pointed to earlier case law suggesting that claims for adverse possession could not rely on criminal acts.


The Court of Appeal clarified that Section 144 of LASPO 2012 was primarily enacted to make it easier for property owners to remove squatters from residential buildings. It also pointed out that Section 144 of LASPO 2012 was not intended to change the fundamental principles of adverse possession. Therefore, a squatter who occupies a residential building long enough to fulfil the criteria for adverse possession can still rely on that occupation, even if it involved a criminal offence under Section 144 of LASPO 2012.


This decision clarified that Section 144 of LASPO 2012 does not alter the established law on adverse possession. Squatters can still claim adverse possession if they meet the necessary criteria, even if their occupation included a violation of Section 144. It is possible for a squatter to claim adverse possession without violating Section 144 if he squats in the garden or adverse possesses the residential building for a purpose other than living in it.


In summary, this case affirmed that adverse possession claims should not be automatically disqualified simply because the occupation involved a criminal offence under Section 144 of LASPO 2012. This decision preserved the principles of adverse possession while addressing the criminalisation of certain forms of squatting in residential buildings.


You can learn more about this topic with our Land Law notes.


Subscribe to UOL Case Bank for more exclusive content and case summaries.

Trusted by thousands of law students worldwide

Where are our students from?

Yale University

Council of Europe

Baker Mckenzie 

University of Chicago

Columbia University

New York University

University of Michigan 

INSEAD

University College London (UCL)

London School of Economics (LSE)

King’s College London (KCL)

University of London

University of Manchester

University of Zurich

University of York

Brandeis University

University of Exeter

University of Sheffield

Boston University

University of Washington

University of Leeds

University of Law

Royal Holloway, University of London 

Birkbeck, University of London

SOAS, University of London

University of Kent

University of Hull

Queen’s University Belfast

Toronto Metropolitan University

Hong Kong University of Science and Technology

University of Buckingham

Your perfect companion for open-book and closed-book exams

Diagrams and Charts

Our carefully designed diagrams and charts will guide you through complex legal issues.

Clear and Succinct Definitions

Key concepts are concisely defined to help you understand legal topics quickly.

Statutory Provisions

Statutory provisions are provided side by side with legal concepts to help you swiftly locate the relevant legislation.

Case Summaries

We have summarised important cases for you so that you don't need to read long and boring cases.

Rules and Exceptions

Rules and exceptions are clearly listed so that you know when a rule applies and when it doesn't.

Terminology

Legal terms and key concepts are explained at the beginning of each chapter to help you learn efficiently.

Case Law

Case law is provided side by side with legal concepts so that you know how legal principles and precedents were established.

Law Essay Guide

You will learn essential law exam skills and essay writing techniques that are not taught in class.

Problem Question Guide

We will show you how to answer problem questions step by step to achieve first-class results.

Structured Explanations

Complex legal concepts are broken down into concise and digestible bullet point explanations.

Legal Research

You will learn legal research techniques with our study guide and become a proficient legal researcher.

Exam-focused

All essential concepts, principles, and case law are included so that you can answer exam questions quickly.