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Lawbite: The importance of using accurate plans in transfers of part

  • United Kingdom
  • Litigation and dispute management
  • Real estate
  • Real estate litigation - LawBite

15-04-2021

Scott v Martin [2021] UKUT 31 (LC)

A recent case highlights the importance of using accurate plans in transfers of part to try to avoid boundary disputes arising.  

The case related to farmland in Cumbria.  Part of this farmland was sold in 1986 (the “1986 Land”) by reference to a poor quality plan.  The remainder of the farmland, mainly comprising a farmhouse, was sold in 1991 (the “1991 Land”). The issue was that the plans attached to these conveyances showed the boundary between the two parcels of land to be in a different place. Consequently, a forsaken parcel of land lay between these two parcels (the “Disputed Land”). 

All this went unnoticed for some time but in 2015, the owners of the 1986 Land obtained a conveyance of the Disputed Land from the original sellers and sought to register title at the Land Registry.   The owners of the 1991 Land objected to this registration and the matter went to the First Tier Tribunal. There it was held that neither the 1986 nor 1991 conveyance had conveyed the Disputed Land, and the Land Registry was directed to register the 2015 conveyance.

On appeal, the Upper Tribunal disagreed. Although it accepted that the Disputed Land was not included in the 1986 conveyance, it held that the land was included in the 1991 conveyance. The reasoning for this was that the 1991 conveyance did not show any intention on the part of the seller to retain land – there was no reference in the conveyance to a sale of part only, no easements were granted or reserved across the Disputed Land and there was no demarcation of the relevant boundary. Further, the Upper Tribunal considered it unlikely that the seller would have intended to reserve a narrow inaccessible strip in order, for example, to create a ransom strip.

The Upper Tribunal upheld the objection to registration of the 2015 conveyance.

 Key points

  • care should always be taken to prepare good quality, accurate plans when transferring land, and this is particularly the case with transfers of part. The boundaries of any adjoining titles should be carefully assessed during plan preparation, and physical boundary positions should also be checked against title boundaries to ensure that there are no discrepancies
  • an accurate description of the land being transferred is also crucial. Where pertinent, describing the extent of the land transferred as up to the boundary of the relevant adjoining land may assist with demonstrating an intention to transfer the full extent of a parcel of land, and may avoid any unintended orphaned strips between titles