The position of the Land Registry regarding the accuracy of title plans and the reliance which can be placed upon the boundaries shown upon them has always been that boundaries are ‘general’ only and not definitive. A procedure is available for determining the specific location of boundaries (described in the Land Registry practice guide 19) but this is expensive, slow and is rarely used.
In view of the position of the Land Registry (and the deficiencies of sale plans) it is perhaps surprising that there aren’t more boundaries disputes.
One such dispute (the decision in which upholds the practice of the Land Registry in not definitively fixing boundaries) is the case of Drake –v- Fripp. The decision of the Court of Appeal resulted in a boundary shown on a registered title being relocated. This decision is of particular significance since the proprietor of the property who ‘lost’ the ownership of the disputed land was held not to have been prejudicially affected (since the boundaries shown on the title plan were general) and compensation wasn’t therefore payable.
This case emphasises once again the importance of being clear as to the extent of a party’s land ownership. There are procedures available, short of formally fixing boundaries via the Land Registry procedure referred to above, which enables boundaries to be determined with some degree of certainty. Land owners, if properly advised, are therefore able to make decisions which affect their property on the basis of a clear understanding of the location of the boundaries of their land.
If you require any further information on the points raised in this blog or wish to discuss any of the issues please contact Mark Withers at firstname.lastname@example.org