Adverse possession and purchaser allowed into possession where the contract is never completed

In Lam Chi Keung v Choi Chung Fun ([2013] HKEC 1095, CFI) S agreed to sell property to P. Title to the property was in the name of S’ deceased father. The contract was conditional on S obtaining letters of administration. In the meantime, P paid the full purchase price and went into possession. S and P both died. P’s children sought a declaration that P had acquired title by adverse possession. This succeeded. Since the contract was conditional and S could have refused to complete and refunded the purchase price, S had a right to recover possession that could be lost by virtue of the Limitation Ordinance ([51]).

P’s children’s other claim that they were entitled to specific performance of the agreement failed. Any such right had been lost when the Government resumed the land; this extinguished all rights and interests in the property by operation of law ([30]).

Michael Lower

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