Disputed possessory title: still good enough to see off a trespasser

In Bridam Ltd v Sa Sa Cosmetic Co Ltd ([2013] HKEC 1020, CFI) L granted a lease of premises to T. The lease also gave T the right to use the signage on the external wall. L claimed to have possessory title to the signage space. T’s tenancy expired and it gave back possession of the property and the signage space. Shortly afterwards, however, it reinstated its own signage. It did not claim that it had any right to do so but, rather, that L had no title and was not entitled to recover possession. This argument failed and T was ordered to remove its sign.

The fact that L did not have the benefit of a declaration confirming its possessory title was irrelevant; this would declare, not confer, the title ([9] per L Chan J.). In any event, T plainly had no title and allowing it to succeed would be a recipe for chaos ([13]). The court stressed that its judgment had no effect on the rights, if any, of the registered owners ([15]).

Michael Lower

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