Disputes often arise over the ownership of an area of land. If you own land that someone else is using without your permission, you might be at risk of losing it altogether.
Someone who does not own land can obtain it by adverse possession. This is sometimes referred to as ‘squatters rights’.
Adverse possession is where a person can become the legal owner of land if they have possessed that land for a specified period of time, without permission from the legal owner.
There are two ways in which a squatter could obtain land by adverse possession. Once adverse possession is established the legal owner may not be able to oppose it. This would allow the squatter to legally register the land in his/her own name.
The old rules are in common law and they are based on the Limitation Act 1980. The old rules allow a squatter to obtain land by adverse possession after they have possessed it for 12 years or more. The period should end by 13th October 2003.
The test was set out in Powell v McFarlane (1979) 38 P & CR 452. This case tells us that the squatter needs to prove the following to claim title by adverse possession:
Time begins to run when the legal owner of the land is not in factual possession of it and the squatter has possessed the land.
It is important to note that once the necessary 12 year period has been established, the owner of the land will not be able to claim it back.
If the squatter has not been in possession of the land for 12 years by 13th October 2003, then he/she could apply to be registered as the legal owner of the land after 10 years of adverse possession. However, under these new rules, the owner can oppose the application. If the owner objects to the application, it will be rejected unless the squatter satisfies specific conditions.
Whether you are the land owner or you believe that you may have acquired land by adverse possession, it is important that you consider when possession started and the specific period of time the land has been used for.
The timing and period of possession will determine whether your dispute falls under the old rules or the new rules (under the Land Registration Act 2002) which may have a significant impact on the situation.
At MW, our mission is "to make quality legal services accessible to everyone", including landowners who are in dispute over ownership of land.
Our specialist Property Disputes Lawyers have the experience and knowledge to help you to resolve your issues in an efficient and timely way.
Sarah Phillips, a solicitor in the Crime and Extradition Team, along with Josh Kern of Counsel from 9 Bedford Row secured the discharge of a Requested Person wanted to serve a sentence of 3 years 6 months in Poland for offences including assault and theft.
The offences dated back to 2002/2003 and the Requested Person had previously been subjected to extradition proceedings in the UK in 2012 before the warrant was withdrawn by Poland.
District Judge Griffiths ordered discharge of the Requested Person on Passage of Time (s14) and Article 8 grounds. She found that although the Requested Person had been a fugitive at the time of his previous extradition proceedings in 2012, he had ceased to be a fugitive thereafter and he was therefore able to rely on the s14 bar to extradition. The Requested Person had two children in the UK, one of whom had been born since 2012.
His extradition was therefore found to be oppressive by virtue of the passage of time between 2012 – present day and to be contrary to his Article 8 right to a private and family life in the UK.
With MW Solicitors, you can be confident that you have a legal team with the specialist knowledge and experience required to thoroughly investigate your case and present the strongest possible defence on your behalf.
Our team have defended clients sought all over world, from Peru to Nigeria and from Albania to the United States. Don't delay, talk to our specialist Extradition Lawyers on 020 3551 8500 or use our Contact Us form to arrange a callback.
Getting the keys to your dream home should be the start of a joyous period in your life, but for a young couple who recently asked for our help it was the start of a 12 month nightmare which saw them unlawfully evicted, forced to move back in with their parents and left with no choice but to go to court to regain access to their home.
Geoff Stagg, a Partner in the property disputes section of the Civil & Commercial Litigation Department, handled the case and as he explains, what happened to the clients was quite extraordinary, as was the eventual outcome.
The facts of this case were unusual because unlike typical unlawful eviction cases, which involve landlords evicting tenants with a short-term lease, what you had here was the freehold owner of a building that had been divided into flats unlawfully evicting a couple who had bought one of those flats.
The circumstances leading up to the eviction were complicated, but in essence the building owner alleged that the previous owners of our client’s property had failed to pay him thousands of pounds in outstanding service charges for repairs and maintenance. He insisted that our clients were responsible for settling these and when they queried this, and subsequently refused to pay, he responded by changing the locks to their property while they were out without a court order and refused to let them back in.
When the clients came to see us they were understandably distressed. They had paid nearly £200,000 for their first home in which to raise a family and were now faced with being unable to live there.
We explained to the building owner that he had no right to lock our clients out and demanded that he immediately provide them with a new set of keys so they could regain access. He refused, which left us with no option but to start court proceedings for what was clearly an unlawful eviction.
Incensed by this, the building owner did all he could to make dealing with the proceedings as difficult as possible. He acted without using solicitors and even made veiled death threats to myself and my colleague Louise as a result our involvement in the matter.
In spite of this we pushed on and after a 12 month battle we were successful in securing an order from the court confirming our clients’ right to be let back into their home. Initially the building owner still refused to comply with this but eventually had no choice but to cave in after we issued further contempt proceedings which could have resulted in him being imprisoned if he continued to ignore the order that had been made.
In recognition of the distress, inconvenience and financial losses our clients had incurred, we were also successful in obtaining an order from the court compelling the building owner to pay our clients over £66,000 in compensation, which is possibly the highest ever award made in an unlawful eviction case of this type in England and Wales.
Needless to say the clients were delighted with the outcome, although understandably they have since decided to sell the property so they can start a new chapter in their life somewhere else untainted by the horror of what they have had to endure.
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Andrew Bentham and Ben Collins QC (old Square Chambers) featured in the April edition of the AvMA Lawyers Service Newsletter published on 3rd April 2019.
Despite the challenges of practising in healthcare law, the resilience, commitment and dedication claimant clinical negligence lawyers show in doing their best for their clients continues.
Andrew Bentham at McMillan Williams and Ben Collins QC at Old Square Chambers case of Asante v Guy’s & St Thomas’ Hospital NHS Foundation Trust  EWHC 2578 (QB), is a good example of what can be achieved even when the odds appear to be stacked against the claimant.
To read the article (Page 7) published by AvMa, please click here.
AvMA (Action versus Medical Accidents) are the UK Charity for patient safety & justice. They work closely with patients and their families/friends, the groups that represent them, healthcare organisations and health professionals, government, charities and lawyers to improve patient safety, fairness and access to justice.
At MW, our mission is "To make quality legal services accessible to everyone", including those who have suffered at the hands of medical professionals.
If you would like to speak to our team of specialist Clinical Negligence or Personal Injury Solicitors to discuss your case, call us today on 0203 551 8500 or use our Contact Us form to tell us more about your case and arrange a callback.
The issue of public funding for legal representation at inquests has been in the news a lot recently. Legal Aid funding is not automatically granted at inquests except in ‘exceptional circumstances’. Legal aid guidelines say that funding for a family at an inquest requires there to be a ‘wider interest’. The family of teenager, Molly Russell, who took her own life after viewing material about suicide and self-harm on social media was initially refused funding to pay for legal advice at her inquest. It is understood that one of the reasons given by the Legal Aid Agency for the refusal was that it would not lead to significant and material benefits to a large cohort of specific persons. Following an appeal against the decision legal aid funding has since been granted for the inquest, however this does demonstrate the difficulties encountered. Unfortunately, many families are unsuccessful in obtaining legal aid funding and find that they have to represent themselves at the inquest, when the other side have experienced legal representation.
A report, ‘The Patronising Disposition of Unaccountable Power’, was commissioned by the Home Office in 2017. The Right Reverend James Jones, Chair of the Hillsborough Independent Panel and the Home Secretary’s advisor on Hillsborough, emphasised a ‘pressing need’ for bereaved families to receive publicly funded legal representation at inquests where public bodies were legally represented.
The Ministry of Justice carried out a review of the current availability of legal aid and confirmed on the 7th February 2019 that it would not introduce automatic public funding where the state was represented. Inquest, a campaign charity, had called for automatic non-means tested legal aid funding to families for specialist representation immediately after a state-related death.
The Ministry confirmed that the purpose of means testing served to determine the allocation of taxpayers’ money to those most in need, for the most serious cases in which legal advice or representation was justified. However, following a freedom of Information request the charity, Inquest, has obtained shocking data demonstrating that in 2017 the Ministry of Justice spent £4.2m on the prison and probation service for legal representation at inquests for prisoner deaths, while the relatives of the deceased were granted just £92,000 through the Legal Aid Agency’s exceptional funding scheme. These figures demonstrate the significant inequality of arms experienced by bereaved and grieving families following a state-related death.
Yesterday, the issue of public funding at inquests was the subject of a Westminster Hall debate in Parliament. Labour MP, Ms Stephanie Peacock, noted
'On the one hand, state bodies and representatives are equipped with access to unlimited funds and resources - the best experts and the best legal teams. On the other hand, vulnerable families in the midst of grief are forced to navigate a complex and alien application process that is provided with the bare minimum of support - indeed, most people will not even receive that.'
Conservative MP, Mr Tim Loughton, confirmed that the only parties whose legal representation would not be paid for at a forthcoming inquest over the 2015 Shoreham Airshow crash were the families of the 11 victims, which he said was a ‘travesty of justice’.
MW Solicitors passionately believes that bereaved families should be entitled to legal representation at an Inquest. The recent figures demonstrate the significant and alarming disparity in funding for legal representation and highlights the need for equality of arms between families and the state.
At MW Solicitors, our mission is "To make quality legal services accessible to everyone" including bereaved families who deserve to know the circumstances of their loved ones death.