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Hello and thank you for your question. I will be very pleased to assist you. I'm a practising lawyer in England with over 10 years experience.
May I clarify for what period you last paid rent please? Was this just for 1988 and then no further rent was paid under any licence thereafter?
Did you padlock the gate(s)?
Hi -- it was not rent I paid , it was a 9 month grazing licence say October 88.
sorry sent in error - don' know if it makes a difference being a grazing licence and not rent - going from memory think from october 88 but it may have been earlier but - yes I have always had the gates locked and no-one else has ever been into the field. I have never paid anything other than that first 9 months
No problem. Thank you.
On the above facts you may have grounds to claim adverse possession of the land in question. There have been two significant rulings which will make good reading for you in the first instance:
(J A Pye (Oxford) Limited v Graham 
I am really worried cos if I loose the field I will loose my horses as no where else to keep them that is affordable for me
Williams v Jones, 10 July, 2002 (Court of Appeal). 
In the case of Williams v Jones, in 1971, Mr Williams, the claimant, took over an agricultural tenancy of some grazing land from his father and continued to use the land for sheep grazing. He continued to pay rent until 1973, after which, with the agreement of the freeholder's agent, the claimant remained on the land without paying rent but, in lieu of rent, provided certain caretaking services for another property. Some time in the mid-1970's, the freehold was transferred and the new freeholders neither collected rent nor asked for any services in lieu of rent.
In 1992, the freehold was sold to the appellant company and the claimant claimed title to the land by adverse possession. The claim was allowed by the county court but this was challenged by the freeholde
The matter went to the Court of Appeal following the freeholders challenge. The Court of Appeal dismissed the appeal, upholding the finding of adverse possession for the claimant. They decided that once the claimant's tenancy had come to an end and the period covered by the last payment of rent had expired, then, the claimant ceased to be the tenant and his continued possession was enough to establish adverse possession.
You would need to be able to show a sufficient degree of exclusive physical control over the land being possessed. What is sufficient will depend on the circumstances but in this case fences and locked gates denying others entry will be ideal evidence to demonstrate this.
If you decide to try to establish adverse possession either proactively or as a response to any notice you receive from the landowner you will need to consider retaining representation to prepare a claim or defence as the case may be as you will need to ensure that evidence you produce "ticks all the boxes" so to speak to demonstrate sufficient factual possession of the land
In the meantime if you can gather evidence to show when the fences were erected - be it invoices, or witness statements that would be helpful
Has the above answered your questions satisfactorily?
More or less. there was one other thing - did the law change in 2002 ? am I affected by this - my understanding is that from 2002 it's virtually impossible claim adverse possession as the law was changed to favour land owners. am i better to just wait and see what happens or should I be the one who is proactive
You are quite right. However you should not be impacted by the change in law because you can show 12 years of occupation before 2003 (when the 2002 law change came into force). Therefore your claim would be assessed under the pre 2002 Land Registration Act.
Is there anything else I can help you with?
the witness statements could be an issue as we have only 4 neighbors all of them only been here recently - looks like I am going to have to go thro all my old papers to see if I can find licence
Evidence is likely to be your most significant challenge as you say which is why representation will be valuable in order to ensure your evidence is as good and as well presented as it can be. Witness statements have their place but records of fence erection would be even better.
Is there anything above I can clarify for you?
I have an understanding now of what needs to be done. At least I seem to havea decent case so all is not lost
If I can assist any further as the situation develops please do not hesitate to revert to me
thank you - but i have to watch the money - would that be in the money I have paid
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Good luck and best wishes