High Court Ruling Allows Criminal Squatter To Acquire Land Title

Judicial Review Into Chief Land Registrar’s Cancellation Of Application


The High Court has allowed a squatter to continue in his legal battle to acquire the title to the land for a residential property he has been living in for ten years, despite his original application being cancelled by the Land Registry.

The case of R (Best) v Chief Land Registrar relates to a case in which the squatter applied in November 2012 to register the title of a house under the Land Registration Act 2002 due to the fact he had been in ‘adverse possession’ of the site for the required period of a decade.

However, the application was refused due to the fact that since legislation changes brought into force in September 2012 the squatter was committing a criminal offence and could not rely on that conduct to acquire title by adverse possession.

Mr Justice Ouseley ruled that the claim for judicial review of the decision should be allowed, stating that while the squatting was illegal it does not prevent him from making a claim regarding the property’s registration.

The defendant has been granted permission to appeal the decision.

Expert Opinion
The Court of Appeal’s decision will be eagerly anticipated by property owners in particular given that this seems to go against the general principle that a party should not profit from its criminal actions.

"In the meantime property owners need to be increasingly vigilant in respect of who is occupying their properties and on what basis."
Sue Wilson, Consultant