Electrical Distribution Company claiming Possessory Title

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    You may have a fight on your hands if you wind up the electricity company.
    They have some very specific acts in place to protect their systems/supplies and this includes compulsory purchase which may not be to your benefit.


      You might have more time than me, a wade through the electricity act might be helpful.


        Originally posted by Elbee View Post
        Thanks for your reply lawcruncher. Does this mean I will have to try and work around the substation? If the electrical company cannot claim adverse possession what next. I have attached the original plan and a copy of the current position shaded grey.
        I cannot see the plans very clearly as when I expand them the detail is lost. However, I am not sure I need to see them because in my view the land comprised in the tenancy is the land actually occupied. A court may take the point that now that the precise position has become important to the landlord the electricity company can be made to move the equipment to the "correct" position, but I have to doubt it. Even if it did, the company may invoke its statutory powers - assuming it has powers to invoke that will assist. Any powers are unlikely to be absolute and any outcome may depend on the history. It may be, for example, that the equipment was put in place long before 1978 and that the 1978 lease was a renewal and the plan on it incorrectly drawn up. There are any number of possible variables. As jon66 suggests, going straight to a barrister may be preferable to going to a solicitor. If you do go to a barrister though it is important to make sure you set the problem out clearly.


          Thanks everyone for your replies. I am taking everything on board and appreciate all the advice. Before I bought the land I had various conversations and emails with the company. They have been vague, helpful and sometimes just plain rude. From what I could gather from the conversations they told me they had an active tenancy. I was happy to work around the substation and design a house to suit. It wasn’t until I became the legal owner that I was allowed look at the lease and actually see what’s happened. The fact is there is no active tenancy but they are saying they are protected by section 2 of the landlord and tenants act. Ok. Fair enough so let’s look at the landlord and tenants act. When I pointed out that the location of the substation contravenes the lease agreement the engineer had little argument. I have offered them a suitable corner of the plot nearer to where their cables enter and exit the land and thirdly as the land owner I want to develop and build on the land. Under the l&t act this gives me three listed reasons to refuse to renew any lease and serve a section 21 notice on them. I appreciate they have a legal obligation to provide electricity but they must do that within the law. I was hoping we could work together but it doesn’t look like that because when I gave the three l&t act reasons for them to move they have come back with the adverse possession threat. I am now confident they will not succeed with this. I have taken Jon66 advice and spoken with a barrister today. He said straight away that he can’t see the adverse possession route working for them and wants all the information I have to take them on through the landlord and tenants act. I will see what comes of this, I don’t have a bottomless pot of money to fight legal battles but will certainly ensure the law is upheld.


            Elbee, I have previously advised lessees of flats acquiring new freeholders that the freeholder should not be pursuing breaches that were perfectly obvious prior to the acquisition.

            Be careful that you don't throw a great deal of money at this, for the judge to rule similarly.

            Are you sure there was no engineering reason why the substation is not where it should be?


              JKO thanks for the respons and advice. I have now employed the services of a barrister on the advice of jon66. One of the questions he has asked is if the substation has been moved in the last 40 years. Ive been on to the engineer and am waiting an answer.

              As as far as throwing money at this, that’s not going to happen. Once i have collated all the information the barrister needs I will employ his services for the minimum time to establish whether this is worth persuing and reassess the situation at this time. Thanks


                Please let us know the outcome.



                  I wonder if the site was moved to appease the council planning department. Perhaps sightlines on a corner? Council might have records of old planning applications.

                  If o/p wants the substation moved, I'd have thought he'd have to get planning permission for both the substation and the house he wants to build.


                    Jon66 I’ll let you know what happens. Thanks

                    JKO had a site meeting with company surveyor and he thinks although he’s not entirely sure that the substation was moved sometime in the 90s going by the age of the thing. It looks like they have completely moved the thing almost 7m to the left of the original location. They are being very cagey about this and the barrister thinks they have probably done this without consulting the original landlord who they had a lease with until 1999.

                    Yes I was hoping to work with them to move it to the corner of my plot and I would of submitted planning for the house and relocation of the substation in one hit.
                    I’m waiting to hear from their Solicitor now and it’s holding everything up.


                      Oh, well have a look at the council offices. I'd have thought there would be some reference to this in the 90's as by then the suppliers were private companies, and not able to do anything they liked.

                      BTW, I wonder if the reason the site was moved was because they did not want to shut off the old substation until the new one was built? Are there any concrete foundations remaining of the old one?


                        JKO there are no obvious signs of an old substation where there should have been. The engineer said at the site meeting that keeping the old one running until the new one was built would have been the way they would have done it.

                        When I pressed him on the fact that they did this with no permission he said that’s the way things were being done back then and it’s a major part of his job dealing with the fallout from these actions.

                        From all these discussions and site meeting I’ve concluded that they signed a lease in 1978 for 21 years which would take them to 1999. Sometime in the mid 90’s they upgraded their equipment and moved the location 6.7m to the left, closer to where their cables enter the plot. The original landlord was based in London, so not local to the site and they did it without the landlords permission.

                        Their surveyor originally told me there was an active lease when in fact there is an expired lease that they are using section 2 of L&T act to claim security of tenure to remain on the land. When I pointed out that they are not conforming to the terms of the lease the surveyors face turned white and he started clutching at straws by saying that they would claim possessory title because they have been there for so long.

                        I am confident that they will not get possessory title from the advice I’ve received on here, from what I’ve read and the legal advice I’ve had to date.

                        Im waiting to get a response from their Solicitor for the questions from the barrister and I’m suspecting from the conversation with the surveyor that they will not be able to provide any paperwork to back their actions from the 90’s.

                        In an ideal world I would like to think that the common sense approach would be back to the L&T act where I can refuse to agree to renew any lease and get them to move their substation.

                        That is going to cost them money so they will hide behind their Solicitor and try and drag this out for a long time hoping I’ll go away. As I’ve said in previous posts I can build around it but it will seriously impact my design. I don’t want to and can’t afford to take them on even though I would love to stand toe to toe with them and fight this out. I fear the big boys will win out, and for this to move on I’ll either have to sell them the land they are currently sitting on for a pittance or get a new lease drawn up and rent it to them for a pittance. GRrrr I’m so angry by their arrogance and blatant disregard.


                          Bit of an update. I wrote to electric company solicitor with a few specific questions that my barrister was asking about this case:

                          Has the substation moved? Solicitor replied providing photographs saying substation was moved in 1998 with no permission and no authority.

                          Where is the active lease claimed by the electric company? Solicitor replied there is no active lease. Original lease expired in 1999 and no new lease has ever been agreed.

                          Barrister would like to know what grounds they think adverse possession claim would be successful when they have shown no desire to make a claim up to now and only since I have started digging things up. Solicitor replied that she was preparing a file and I would get a chance to object when the land Registry send me details of their case.


                            Have they been paying rent since 1999?

                            Lawcruncher will confirm, but I believe that would prevent any adverse possession claim.


                              FTA: If the original lease was 1978, and the new substation was built in 1998, does that suggest that it is now due to be replaced again? I wonder if this might be a big cost saving for you, either by making a deal now, or just biding your time until they build a new substation back on the 1978 site?


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