Once a compulsory purchase order (CPO) is confirmed, the acquiring authority follows one of two methods to ensure that title to the land is obtained and possession taken. Which method is used depends on the nature of the interest and the way in which the development underlying the CPO is to proceed.

One method is to serve a notice to treat (followed by a notice of entry enabling possession to be taken) on the owner of an interest. The taking of possession crystallises the date for the calculation of compensation.

In Kent County Council v Union Railways (North) Ltd, the council served a notice to treat on the freehold owner of land, but not on the railway company which had an option over the land.

Cases of disputed compensation under a CPO are referred to the Lands Tribunal[1] for determination. The railway company sought compensation for losses suffered as a result of the council's acquisition.

It was held that the council had no discretion when deciding on the recipients of a notice to treat. It had to serve a notice on everyone with an interest in the land to be acquired. The fact that the railway company did not receive a notice did not affect its in-principle entitlement to compensation and the Lands Tribunal was entitled to deal with the railway company's reference.