Not too long ago, there was an information on social media, particularly on Whatsapp platforms to the effect that, if you put a caretaker on your land, he takes ownership of the land after being in possession for ten (10) years. The panic it caused to many Ghanaians was so telling and manifest.
Since the circulation of the information on social media, strenuous efforts have been made through the same social media by some members of the ‘I put it to you Profession’ as well as those of the fourth estate to refute the allegation. At the centre of their explanation were the principles of adverse possession and long possession. It was indicated that without the exercise of adverse possession by a nonowner of land, it would be impossible for the true owner to lose his land to the non-owner, no matter how long the person remains in possession. In one of the videos that sought to explain the issue to the mind of the lay person, it was indicated that adverse possession can only be exercised over a bare and undeveloped land and not otherwise.
This is quite debatable and I believe it is about time the principles of adverse possession and long possession are explained thoroughly and put in their right perspective. With the passage of the new land Act, Land Act, 2020 (Act 1036), it is now possible for a person who stays longer on a land to acquire title in the land in the absence of adverse possession. On the contrary, occupants of public lands in long possession can no longer exercise adverse possession over such lands.
This article is in two parts. The first part deals with an explanation of the principles relating to long possession and adverse possession established many decades ago by our courts. In the second part, the writer proceeds to discuss how the principle 2 of long possession has been given prominence by Act 1036 thereby changing the underlining principles pertaining to long possession.
The author will raise some pertinent issues for Ghanaians in general and the legal fraternity in particular to digest. It is hoped that this paper would go a long way to allay the fears of many a Ghanaian who might have been fed with the wrong information. Serious attempts will be made to bring the members of the legal community up to speed with regard to the changes introduced into Act 1036 which now permits a person in long possession on land to acquire ownership in appropriate instances, while at the same time prohibiting the exercise of any form of adverse possession on public lands.
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