Impossible to have ‘possession’ of the bare surface of a wall

In Sunbroad Holdings Limited v Unknown occupiers ([2012] 2 HKLRD 599, CA) a cobbler had fixed two metal boxes and a canopy to the surface of an external wall opposite the stall where he carried on his business. He claimed to have acquired title to the relevant parts of the surface of the wall by virtue of adverse possession. The claim failed. There must be some area of land (or air space) possession of which is claimed (no matter how small). The cobbler was not claiming to own any part of the wall nor of the land over which the boxes and canopy protruded. He was claiming to have possession of the bare surface of the wall and the Court of Appeal decided that this was not possible. It left open the possibility of possession of the area of wall occupied by the nails and screws. This argument had been introduced too late to be entertained.

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