Consequences of the Judgment

This quirky judgment has one immediate consequence, the occupier of a garage built on a highway (adopted or unadopted) could be prosecuted by the local authority for obstruction. The precedent is clear: R(on the application of Smith) versus the Land Registry Peterborough Office (2009). In this case the claimant was a squatter who claimed title to part of a highway by parking his caravan on it for more than twelve years. The Land Registry rejected the claim for first registration of title over the land of the highway. The Registry noted that it is impossible to acquire title over a highway (adopted or unadopted) and given that the highway by definition is a public right of way, it is impossible to occupy it to the exclusion of all others. On judicial review the High Court rejected the application (Pelling Q. C. could see no way in which the possession needed to acquire adverse possession could be acquired other than by obstruction, a breach of what is now Section 137 of the Highway Act 1980 – a criminal offence). The Judge (Pelling) advised the local authority to prosecute for obstruction. The Judge in the Waters Evans cse therefore went against a High Court ruling, a mistake in law and grounds for an appeal. I will bring this matter to the attention of Swansea County Council and the local community council. According to the judgment Cen and Ellis were squatters on a public highway and could have been prosecuted. They never were prosecuted but neither was ever granted title.


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