The case of R (on the application of Smith) v The Land Registry and Cambridgeshire County Council considered whether a claim for adverse possession was sufficient to override highway rights.
S made an application for first registration of a piece of land. His claim for title was by adverse possession, on the basis that his caravan and related structures had been on the land for more than 12 years. The Land Registry rejected the claim on the ground that adverse title could not be claimed over a highway. The adverse possession rules could not override the criminal offence created by his obstruction of the highway.
The court confirmed that the public could not be excluded from highway land, even where that land had not been used by the public for a considerable period. The effect of the case is to confirm that there are only limited ways in which a public right of way can be extinguished.