If someone has used a piece of land without consent and without objection and not in secret for more than 10 years if the land is registered at the Land Registry (12 years if unregistered) they are entitled to have the land registered as their own under the doctrine of Adverse Possession.
Any known owner would be contacted by the Land Registry and an application is made by the possessor and they would be allowed to dispute the application.
Any disputed application is passed onto the Land Tribunal who will decide the issue based upon the evidence.
The has to be an intention to possess the land and it has to be occupied to the exclusion of others which means that fencing is off or possessing it and excluding others in some way is almost essential.
Whilst someone claiming adverse possession will very often have occupied the land for far in excess of the requisite period, it’s very often the case that they have no proof of when they first started to occupy and use the land.
If it was not occupied to the exclusion of others but merely used for a period, then the person using it cannot claim adverse possession but may be able to claim an easement if they can prove 20 years use without consent or objection is not in secret. That application for an easement (such as a right-of-way) would be made under the Prescription Act.
It’s also worth noting that if someone has an easement already over a piece of land, and they fence it off and exclude others, and do so in excess of the requisite period, they cannot claim adverse possession because their possession cannot be adverse if the access was originally by consent as a result of an existing easement.
So if the dividing wall has been on the neighbour’s land for more than 10 years and its registered land registry, then it’s the new boundary.
Tell him that if he attempts to knock it down, you have been told to immediately call the police because that criminal damage or threatening criminal damage.
You may find that a strongly worded letter from a solicitor threatening a court application and an application for costs, may focus the mind without actually the need to get to court.
Check your house insurance to see if you have legal expenses cover that would pay for the legal cost of taking this to court.
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