Disputes about adverse possession are usually dealt with by the First-tier Tribunal (Property Chamber) after a referral from HM Land Registry (usually following a counter notice of objection). However issues to do with Adverse Possession often get litigated in the County or High Courts as part of wider property related disputes, including to do with possession proceedings, boundary disputes, proprietary estoppel claims, disputes over rights of way, tenancy issues and nuisance claims.
Decisions of HM Land Registry, including to reject Adverse Possession applications can be subject to Judicial Review in the Administrative Court ( a division of the High Court).
The First-tier Tribunal (Property Chamber) handles applications, appeals and references relating to disputes over property and land and is governed by the 2013 Tribunal Procedure Rules. Land registration matters are usually dealt with at the London office at 10 Alfred Place, London WC1E 7LR. Disputes are usually also heard at this venue, although applications for local hearings (nearer to the parties/dispute) can be made and will be accommodated at local courts (for example at local County Courts or Magistrates’ Courts). The Tribunal is administered by HM Courts and Tribunals Service.
County Court and High Court
The County Court deals with civil matters. Civil court cases usually arise when an individual or a business believes that their rights have been infringed. Property related matters in the County court are usually heard in the Chancery List.
In the High Court, property related claims are usually dealt with in the Chancery Division, which is one of the three divisions of the High Court of Justice.
The High Court will usually deal with high value, complicated claims and smaller value less complicated claims are usually dealt with in the County Court.
A claim is started by the issue of a Claim Form at Court. It usually takes between 12 – 18 months from issue of a claim form to get to a final trial.
The procedure governing civil claims, within the County Court and High Court is contained within the Civil Procedure Rules (CPR).
The Pre-Action Conduct and Protocols for conduct before issuing a claim within the County or High Court should usually be adhered to.
A final decision of HM Land Registry may be subject to an application for Judicial Review in the Administrative Court (a division of the High Court). Time limits are strict and any application for Judicial Review should be brought as soon as possible, but within 3 months at the very latest. Decisions which may be challenged include decisions to reject adverse possession applications.
If successful an application for Judicial Review will usually result in the decision of HM land Registry being quashed. The grounds for a successful judicial review are usually illegality, irrationality (unreasonableness) and procedural impropriety.
From issue of Claim Form to final trial could take between 6 – 12 months (unless the matter is expedited).
The Administrative Court has published a useful and detailed guide on practice and procedure on Judicial Reviews.