Dec 1, 2014
Facts: Teis claiming possessory title of two strips of land (ploughed strip and laneway) located on edge of public park used to play baseball. For more than 10 years both Teis and Town of Ancaster mistakenly believed Teis owned land. Issue: whether a person claiming possessory title must show “inconsistent use” when the claimant and the paper title holder mistakenly believe the claimant owns the land in dispute. Other issue was whether trial judge erred in holding Teis had actual possessionHolding: Test of inconsistent use does not apply to a case of mutual mistake and trial judge did not err in finding actual possession Reasons: -Test does not apply to mutual mistake oIf it did every adverse possession claim of mistake would fail -Inconsistent use means that claimant’s use of land is inconsistent with the true owner’s intended use -If true owner mistakenly believes claimant owns land than true owner has no intended use for it and claimants use cannot be inconsistent -No previous cases of mutual mistake refer to inconsistent use test oIf applied test would reward squatters and punish innocent trespassers -Law less generous when knowing trespasses seeks test to dispossess rightful owner -Policy of Limitations Act oRule to construe statute of limitations in strictest manner when person invoking their aid is a mere trespasser oNot intended as means of acquiring title or encouraging dishonest people to deprive others of land oNothing in policy of law which demands that it should be easy to steal land -Test of inconsistent use strengthens hand of true owner in face of adverse possession claim by a knowing trespasser -Applying test to persons who honestly though mistakenly use land defeats this policy -in mutual mistake how can applicant intend to dispossess true owner when they believed they were the true owner?-Cases of mutual mistake infer claimants intend to exclude all others Cross Appeal -Teis submit trial judge erred in declaring public had a right of way over laneway -Possessory title may be subject to right of way -Granted because judge found that particular lane not in exclusive domain of the plaintiffs -Supported by evidence and cross appeal fails Adverse Possession of Municipal Park Land -Most cases involve private property owners but this was municipally owned land -Discomfort in upholding possessory title when land would otherwise be used for public benefit -Town did not suggest municipal park land cannot be extinguished by adverse possession or any more stringent requirements -In Canada only Alberta has legislation protecting municipally owned land against claims of adverse possession -In Ontario, streets, highways and road allowances are protected from adverse possession claims -Dismiss appeal and cross appeal with costs