The comments from the Hong Kong Institute of Surveyors (HKIS) on the Consultation Paper on Adverse Possession, released by the Law Reform Commission, are summarised as follows:
- HKIS has no objection to retaining the law of adverse possession as it offers protection against stale claims and avoids hardship when a squatter has incurred improvement expenditure due to mistake of ownership/boundary.
- HKIS strongly urges the enactment of legislation to ensure that land boundaries can be determined with certainty. This would protect the rights and interests of property owners, and support the Government in good land management.
- HKIS queries whether the existing provisions on adverse possession offer a practical solution to boundary problems. HKIS is of the opinion that the key to resolving boundary problems is by providing legal backing through legislation on land boundaries determination.
- HKIS supports the recommendation that the law of adverse possession should be recast under the prospective registered land system. HKIS urges the Government to implement the land title registration system.
- HKIS agrees with the recommendation that squatters should be required to register an adverse possession application before being able to acquire absolute title to the land. The registered owner would be notified of the said application and would be able to object it.
- HKIS supports the proposal to implement a 10-year uninterrupted adverse possession period plus the 2-years' notice requirement. HKIS commented that the notice should be accompanied by an accurate plan with sufficient information to inform the registered owner about the extent of the adverse possession.
- HKIS considers that a 60-years' adverse possession claim against Government land warrants further consideration as it would adversely affect land development.
- HKIS fully agrees that the Government should step up its efforts to address the boundary problem in the New Territories. HKIS considers that the resurvey of the boundaries would resolve most of the problems.