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Ask Clare Your Own Question
Clare
Clare, Solicitor
Category: Law
Satisfied Customers: 34105
Experience:  I have been a solicitor in High Street Practice since 1985 with a wide general experience.
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A friend of mine has used a strip of land at the bottom of

Resolved Question:

A friend of mine has used a strip of land at the bottom of her garden since 2001. In 2014 she received a letter from the local council stating that they owned the land and instructing her to move her property from it. She asked them to send a copy of the title deed which they were unable to do. She checked with Land Registry who told her that the land was unregistered. In view of the Council's inability to prove ownership she has continued to use it and in 2015 erected a fence around the land. After she had done this the Council managed to register the land and now claims she is trespassing. As the occupation and fencing of the land occurred before the Council's registration can she be prosecuted for trespass? If not is there any other law that the Council can use to gain possession of this land?
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Law
Expert:  Clare replied 1 year ago.

Thank you for your question

My name is Clare

I shall do my best to help you but I need some further information first

Has full Title been given to the Council by the Land Registry?

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
The Council owned land that was adjascent to this strip that they purchased from a company called ARC in the late 1990s. This is now a pocket park. Land Registry have changed the boundary of this land to incorporate the strip that was formerly unregistered.
Expert:  Clare replied 1 year ago.

So it would appear that in fact there was originally a mistake at the Land Registry and that mistake has now been corrected?

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
We have a map that shows the 'unregistered' land was never part of the land that ARC owned. The map is signed by senior ARC executive and their boundary is indicated by a tree line that is still there. The Council have somehow persuaded Land Registry that the land was part of the original ARC holding. Land Registry never consulted any of the residents prior to changing the boundary. I'm not sure how this effects my original question as the land was occupied and fenced by a resident prior to this change taking place. Can a prosecution for trespass be pursued for something that happened prior to them obtaining registration of this land? The land itself was planted with trees by the developer that built the houses as part of the planning consent requirement laid down and we have documentary evidence for this as well.
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
I am now going out, if you have any further questions then I will not be in a position to respond until later tomorrow.Thank you,
Derrick.
Expert:  Clare replied 1 year ago.

Your friend cannot be prosecuted for what she did prior to the Council first contacting her.

Equally it is unlikely that she could be taken to court for putting the fencing up at a time when the Council had not yet proved ownership if the land.

However they can now insist that she removes the fencing and if she fails to do so then she can indeed be taken to court for the criminal offence of trespass.

Please ask if you need further details

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
OK, Thanks for your help.
Expert:  Clare replied 1 year ago.

You are most welcome

If your friend does wish to take the matter forward then she would have to challenge the actions of the Land Registry - likely to be an expensive and possibly futile endeavour I am afraid

Clare and other Law Specialists are ready to help you