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Case Bulletin: Can Fraudulent Title Holders Claim Adverse Possession?

Executive Summary: The upper tribunal has held[1] that a defendant who had fraudulently obtained title to a property could not claim adverse possession, allowing the legitimate owner to apply to amend the register in his favour.

Facts: In this case, the defendant forged the signature of the claimant, using this to transfer property belonging to the claimant into the defendant’s name. The defendant then registered the property in his name. Some years later, the claimant applied to alter the register to restore himself as the registered owner of the land. The defendant objected to this, arguing that he was in adverse possession of the property.

Decision: The upper tribunal held that, as the registered owner of a land, the defendant could not claim adverse possession, confirming a previous decision in Parshall[2]. In this case the defendant was in fact the registered proprietor regardless of the fraud and could not therefore claim adverse possession.

Conclusion: This is a welcome decision for victims of fraud, allowing them to easily amend the land registry to reflect their legitimate title. This is important given the often lengthy and costly process of reclaiming the property once adverse possession has been established.

[1] Farakh Rashid v Mohammed Rashid [2017] UKUT 332

[2] Parshall v Hackney [2013] EWCA Civ 240

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