Thu | Apr 26, 2018

Squatters have rights

Published:Tuesday | November 16, 2010 | 12:00 AM

The Editor, Sir:

For the information of Senator Dennis Meadows and the general public, I say that from time immemorial trespass to land and all other forms of trespass constitute both criminal and civil wrongs, and the Trespass Act of 1851 creates criminal liability and severe punishment for trespass to land.

A strong spirit of English law is that squatters have rights which may ripen into ownership if owners are not vigilant to assert rights of ownership over squatters. The Limitation of Actions Act and recent decisions of the courts say the right of an owner may be barred in favour of a squatter or trespasser by whatever name called. Section 18 (2) (f) of the Constitution of Jamaica protects the rights of squatters under the Limitation of Actions Act and Common Law known as so-called judge-made laws in this context.

The right of squatters has its foundation in the general principle of English law that land should be freely alienable recognising that land, being the source of all wealth, must not remain idle by anyone including the State. In this connection, the State can be deprived of its property if the limitation period of 60 years operates in favour of a squatter.

By the way, what happened to the social consciousness of Senator Meadows when he asked for draconian punishment for poor people?

I am, etc.,