Queen wins squatter's rights
mark at tlio.org.uk
Thu Feb 21 00:17:45 GMT 2008
Queen wins squatter's rights
Published by Jane Gething-Lewis for 24dash.com
Wednesday 20th February 2008
The Queen today won squatter's rights over a large tract of the
Severn Estuary potentially worth many millions as a site for tidal
and wind power electricity generation.
Appeal judges ruled that the Crown Estate Commissioners, who own
virtually the entire UK seabed out to the 12-mile limit, had
acquired "adverse possession" of part of the Severn foreshore and
river bed by using it for many years before its ancient Lordship
title was bought by historian Mark Roberts in 1997.
The judges rejected Mr Roberts's argument that there was a centuries-
old constitutional principle limiting the right of the Crown to
acquire title to land by adverse possession.
Lord Justice Mummery, sitting with Lord Justice Jacob and Mr Justice
Mann, said: "The same law that applies between subjects of the Crown
also applies as between the Crown and its subjects."
Today's ruling, which related to an area known as "the Magor Land",
was given in preliminary court proceedings pending a complex legal
battle, to begin in the Spring, over ownership of large tracts of
the Severn Estuary.
Last April, after an examination of laws from Magna Carta to the
present day, High Court judge Mr Justice Lindsay handed down rulings
on "paper title" claims dating back to the 13th century.
Mr Roberts, suing under the name Mark Andrew Tudor, Lord Marcher of
Trelleck, is a renowned expert on the ancient laws and history of
Lordships or Manors, particularly those on the Welsh Marches, and
has acquired more than 60 of them.
They include, he says, the Lordships Marcher of Mathern, Caerleon
and Magor - many thousands of acres of sand and mudflats in tidal
estuary areas on the Welsh side off Portskewett, Redwick and
Goldcliff to the south-west of the first Severn Road Bridge.
He acquired the Lordships between 1997 and 2003 and says his title
runs back to the conquest of the Principality of Wales by Edward I -
"Edward Longshanks" - in 1282.
But when he tried to register his title with HM Land Registry, he
ran into conflict with three other claimants to title - Swangrove
Estates, the estate company of the Dukes of Beaufort (as to Mathern
and Caerleon); the Crown Estate Commissioners (as to Magor) and John
Hanbury-Tenison (as to a slim area close to the shore which Mr
Roberts claims is part of Magor).
Everyone involved claims to have been in possession themselves and
through predecessors in title for centuries. This is the subject of
the main court action, yet to be heard.
But they also claim ownership by adverse possession on the basis
that their physical custody and control of the land pre-dates
The state of play on that basis so far is that Swangrove has won
Caerleon and a narrow area referred to as "the Welsh sliver", but
has lost Mathern; the Crown Estate has won Magor and an area
called "the English sliver", and Mr Hanbury-Tenison's claim will
have to await the result of the main action.
Lord Justice Mummery said today that, at least since 1958, the Crown
Estates Commissioners had occupied the Magor land by issuing
licences for sand dredging.
The Crown had also regulated fishing, borehole prospecting, spoil
dumping and archaeological use and, most dramatically of all,
military use in World War Two as an RAF bombing range and gunnery
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