IT IS POSSIBLE TO CLAIM OWNERSHIP OF LAND EVEN IF YOU ARE NOT REGISTERED ON THE TITLE …
In Western Australia. the successors in title to their father Hadley George Bowman, sued Gary Tremaine for trespass of land that was in their name following the death of their father. The strip of land was approximately 134 sqm in size, extended along the boundary of the properties owned by the parties and was of varying width.
In a counterclaim, Mr Tremaine claimed ownership of the land by adverse possession. Mr Tremaine gave evidence that the disputed land was physically incorporated as part of his property when a limestone retaining wall was constructed in about 1957. Other things were done on the disputed land since the early 1950s such as, the planting of trees and the erection of water tanks. It was claimed that the plaintiffs’ family were never granted use or possession of the land.
The plaintiffs disputed the evidence of the defendant on the counterclaim. They said that the retaining wall was erected without permission or authority and that Mr Bowman regularly visited the land doing repairs and the like. The evidence was that Mr Bowman complained of the use of the land by Mt Tremaine’s family.
In the 1990s, the plaintiffs asserted entitlement to the whole of the land including by erecting a ring lock fence .
The defendant had to prove actual possession of the land and also an intention to possess the land. Having considered the history of how the land was dealt with by the parties, His Honour found the actions of Mr Hugill, the predecessor in title to Mr Tremaine, made it clear that he had taken possession of the land and intended to retain it. Mr Hugill’s possession started in the early 1950s and continued without any complaint by Mr Bowman. His Honour pointed out that by the time the complaint was made in the 1990s any challenge to possession by Mr Hugill was statute barred.
The claim by Mr Bowman’s family for trespass by Mr Tremaine was dismissed and Mr Tremaine was successful in his claim for ownership of the disputed land.