The Court of Appeal has upheld ([2015] EWCA Civ 17) a first instance decision which allowed a squatter to obtain title to land by adverse possession, despite it being a criminal offence to do so.

The court dismissed the appeal from Land Registry of an earlier High Court decision, Best v Chief Land Registrar. Although the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act 2012 (LASPO) criminalises trespass, the High Court held that, where a squatter claimed title to a residential property based on their adverse possession, the fact that part of their occupation constituted a criminal offence under section 144 of LASPO did not prevent their conduct from qualifying as relevant adverse possession.

Michael Poulsom looked at the essential principles of, and recent developments in, the law of adverse possession in ‘No trespassing’, in the December 2014 edition of Property in Practice - see ‘Related stories’ above right