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F E Smith
F E Smith, Advocate
Category: Law
Satisfied Customers: 9325
Experience:  I have been practising for 30 years.
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We own a small plot of land, which we bought in 2003. It is

Customer Question

We own a small plot of land, which we bought in 2003. It is part of a larger piece of farm land that was split into smaller plots. I can provide our title deed number if required. It has an article 4 direction on it. We took the opportunity to take a look at the land recently (we haven't seen it since originally purchasing it in 2003). When we drove passed it looked like someone (we have no idea who) has been growing crops of some description on the land (ie on our plot and the other plots on the land).
If someone is growing crops on this land then they are doing so without our knowledge and consent and most likely without the knowledge and consent of the other plot owners. If so I would like to know how we find out who it is and what action we can take.
Submitted: 11 months ago.
Category: Law
Expert:  F E Smith replied 11 months ago.

How long has this been happening for?

Customer: replied 11 months ago.
Not sure, it's the first time we've been to see the land since we bought it.
Expert:  F E Smith replied 10 months ago.

If the person that is doing this can prove that they have done this for more than 10 years they can apply to the land registry to have it registered in their name under the doctrine of adverse possession.

You might want to lock the gate and put a notice on the gate to the effect that the person is trespassing and provide your contact details for them to get hold of you.

Take a photograph of the lock so that if it gets broken, you can go to the police and alleged criminal damage.

Until you find out who it is, there is little more that you can do.

When you do find out, they will either have to apply to the land registry or vacate the property. If you object to the registration, which seems likely, will go to the land tribunal and that is going to be potentially risky for them. The reason it would be risky is that if they don’t win for any reason, (they can’t prove 10 years) they could face tens of thousands of pounds in legal costs.

Can I clarify anything for you?

Please rate the service positive. It doesn’t cost you anything helps me greatly.

We can still exchange emails.

Best wishes.


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Customer: replied 10 months ago.
Thanks for your answer. There is a gate at the entrance to the land in which our plot is located. As there are multiple plots/owners, I'm not sure if I am within my rights to lock it?
Customer: replied 10 months ago.
Hi have you had a chance to review my supplementary question about whether I am legally entitled to lock the gated entrance to the field in which our plot is situated as it in theory is jointly accessible by all the plot owners?
Expert:  F E Smith replied 10 months ago.

I apologise for the delay. I didn’t get a notification that you were waiting.

If you lock the land and other people have the right of access, they could take you to court for obstruction although they may be happy to have it locked and also have a key.

Customer: replied 10 months ago.
Ok thanks, ***** ***** about 30 or so plot owners and I would imagine the contact details on the land titles will in a lot of cases be out of date.The hedgerows surrounding the field have not been maintained over the years (many of the people who bought the plots were individual speculative investors not from the immediate area).If I take any further action eg to ensure the 10 year rule doesn't kick in or to pursue the person growing the crops, are there any land related legal pot holes I could encounter eg maintaining the hedgerows?
Expert:  F E Smith replied 10 months ago.

You don’t have a duty to maintain hedgerows. There may be a problem if they become a nuisance and overgrown the highway but other than that, you don’t have to maintain them.

You don’t have to lock the gate to object to this, you can simply put a notice on the board and nail it to a stick and bang it into the ground in the middle of the plot or better still, put several notices saying that this is trespass a new object and they must leave immediately.

Take photographs and include a current newspaper in one of the photographs so that the can be no dispute over the date it’s better than having a photograph dated because that can be changed by altering the date on the camera..

That would be sufficient, for court purposes, to be an objection. If you know the person’s name and address, so much the better .

Ironically enough, if you go and dig all the spuds up and leave them on the ground, that is probably criminal damage and you could face prosecution if the person makes a complaint.

You dig the spuds up and take them that is theft.

There is an argument, a technical legal argument that by growing these things and taking them out of the ground and taking the spuds away (or whatever) they are stealing your nutrients from the ground! However, unless you want a technical legal argument, probably better not go there.

Customer: replied 10 months ago.
Thanks, I've taken photos of the site last weekend and I now know the crops being grown there are maize (growing about 6ft high).
Do you know any lawyers in London who are really good at land law/disputes?
Expert:  F E Smith replied 10 months ago.

As the thread has been open for almost 3 weeks, I no longer get notifications that you are waiting. You haven’t used the rating service either so I haven’t been paid. Could I trouble you to rate the service three stars or above because that triggers my payment. Thank you.

If you go to the Law Society website and visit the Find a Solicitor page, you can search by specialism and postcode.

There are 50,000 solicitors firms in the country and I’m afraid I don’t know one in London although the majority of London firms would be able to do this for you if they handle disputed property matters.

Customer: replied 10 months ago.
Hi I put a 5 star rating; not sure why it's not showing your side; I'll try again
Expert:  F E Smith replied 10 months ago.

Thank you

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