Adverse possession: enclosure is strong evidence of possession and intention to possess

In Ho Hang-Wan v Ma Ting-Cheung ([1990] 1 HKLR 649, CA) the plaintiff had been in occupation of land since 1964. The plaintiff and her husband had erected a fence around the land when they first occupied it. In 1987 the plaintiff applied for a declaration that she had good possessory title to the land. The question was whether she had the necessary intention to possess. Hunter JA thought that fencing off the land was clear evidence of this intention:

‘[I]t seems to me that such intent is necessarily established by unequivocal evidence of exclusive physical possession.’ (at 654)

Ho Hang-wan is also an important authority for the proposition that the death of a licensor terminates a licence and that there is no need for the licensee to have notice of death / termination of the licence. It is this aspect of the case that has featured more prominently in later decisions.


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