Schedule 6 - Registration of adverse possessor

Part of Land Registration Bill [Lords] – in a Public Bill Committee at 3:00 pm on 13 December 2001.

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Photo of Michael Wills Michael Wills Parliamentary Secretary, Lord Chancellor's Department, Parliamentary Secretary (Lord Chancellor's Department) 3:00, 13 December 2001

The amendment is interesting and relates to situations that could arise frequently. Undoubtedly there will be applications where a squatter has gained title to a large proportion of the estate. Sometimes, the sums of money involved will be large, whether the proportion of the estate is small or large. In such circumstances, were the amendment adopted, former registered owners could find not only that they had lost a proportion—perhaps a valuable one—of their land,

but that they still remained subject to any charge on the land that had been lost. Additionally, a lender could lose a significant part of its security. It seems to me that that would be an injustice for both the former owner and the lender.

We face a choice. The Bill as it stands imposes the inconvenience of an additional stage in working out what should happen when a squatter is successful. That often involves comparatively small sums of money, but undoubtedly fairly apportions the remaining financial liabilities and any charge on the land. The amendment would remove that stage for many, but would be unfair for the few cases in which there was a large charge. The existence of the apportionment rule could discourage some from making unmeritorious applications. There is a possible argument—it may not carry much weight with the hon. Member for Stone—that, were the amendment made, it would place the Bill at the risk of being challenged under the Human Rights Act 1998. The general arguments are in favour of the Bill as it stands.