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R (Best) v Chief Land Registrar [2014] EWHC 1370 (Admin), Ouseley J

DATE: 07 May 2014

This case tested the novel issue of whether a squatter who is committing the criminal offence of squatting in a residential building (contrary to s. 144 of the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act 2012) can nevertheless rely on that conduct for the purpose of acquiring title to the land by adverse possession under Schedule 6 to the Land Registration Act 2002; or whether, as a matter of construction and implication of the maxim ex turpi causa, he is prevented from so doing.   

The issue arose because on 27th November 2012 the Claimant squatter applied to the Land Registry under Schedule 6 of the 2002 Act for registration of title to a house, stating that he had been in adverse possession of the land for the period of ten years ending on the date of the application. The Chief Land Registrar decided to cancel the application on the basis that, with effect from 1st September 2012, the Claimant had been committing a criminal offence, and that, following R (Smith) v Land Registry [2009] EWHC 328 (Admin), he could not rely on such conduct in support of his application.  The claim was for judicial review of that decision. 

Mr Justice Ouseley allowed the claim.  Permission to appeal has also been granted. 

Philip Rainey QC and Marc Glover appeared for the Claimant.  Jonathan Karas QC and Katrina Yates appeared for the Defendant. 

Click here for the judgment.