Squatters’ right to title overturned by EU Court

A landmark ruling from Europe may have reversed 180 years of English law by questioning the right of squatters to claim title to land they occupy.

In the case of Graham v. JA Pye heard in 1997, the Lords awarded the Graham family possession of land near Thatcham, Berks, that they had occupied and grazed for 14 years after their grazing licence expired.

But the case was taken before judges at the European Court of Human Rights who overturned the original ruling and the registered owner of the land, JA Pye of Oxford, has reclaimed it with a development value of more than 10m.

Sarah Denney-Richards of MFG solicitors said the ruling would make it much harder for squatters to make future claims to adverse possession.

Christopher Price at the Country Land and Business Association said the decision showed how vital it was to register land at the Land Registry.

Legislation introduced in 2002 meant that squatters could not claim possession of registered land without the owner being notified.