This item is available under a Creative Commons License for non-commercial use only
Adverse possession has been described as a “debilitating” experience and acts as a “blunt instrument” of necessary legislation in modern society. It is a device that ends litigation. Legislation for abolition would lead to greater societal difficulties. Statistically land theft is rare and given that ownership of property carries a duty an owner should be vigilant. One sentence on the property folio could alert an owner of the danger of inadequate fencing. Although aspects of notification as in the Land Registration Act 2002 may be more desirable.
The area of compensation payable to the title holder would be unworkable and could lead to acrimonious disputes. However the value of land does not at present enter into squatter activity although it appears central to the dissenting judgements in Pye . Pye needs to be seen in isolation as a very unusual case. Adverse possession of company land in Ireland is not an issue according to the PRAI.
The Statute of Limitations 1957 operates fairly in protecting land ownership. Although land purchased from the public purse should carry the longer recovery period of thirty years, the timeframe of twelve years is adequate in relation to private property. The timing of activity on the ground can be assisted by photographs from the OSi. The Constitution adequately protects private property and better access to justice could be achieved if court costs were tax deductible for individuals as they are for companies.
In summary the survey analysis concluded that squatter behaviour is repetitive if left unaddressed. The lack of professionalism amongst those involved in land measurement needs resolution. Suggestions in relation to the use of GPS satellite maps in the Green Paper Proposing Reform of Boundary Surveys could lead to confusion and in the wrong hands further land theft. A better proposition would be to utilise the OSi mapping that dates back to the early 19th century combined with a moderate archaeological survey. Overall the doctrine of adverse possession is an essential mechanism acting to stabilise title and has traditionally worked well although sometimes unfairly.
O'Dwyer, Kathleen: Thesis on Adverse Possession. Masters Dissertation. Dublin, DIT, 2009.