Adverse possession: beneficiary defeating the title of his trustee (England)

In Bridges v Mees ([1957] Ch. 475) P orally contracted to buy land (‘the disputed land’) to the rear of his home in 1936. The contract was never completed but he went into possession in 1936 and had paid all of the purchase price by 1937. The seller was a company that went into liquidation. In 1956, D agreed to buy the from the liquidator such title as the liquidator had in the disputed land. One of the questions was whether P could be said to have been in adverse possession of the land. It was decided that he had been in adverse possession. Once P had paid off the whole purchase price in 1937, the seller became a bare trustee of the land for him. There was nothing in the Limitation Act 1939 to prevent a beneficiary from being in adverse possession of land as against his trustee. The limitation period had started to run in 1937. Under section 75 of the Land Registration Act 1925, the seller then held the land on trust for P. This was an overriding interest under section 70(1)(f) of the Land Registration Act 1925.

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