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Dr Mike Nicol

Formerly at Lancaster University

Mike Nicol

Research overview

I am exploring the historical foundations of adverse possession (squatting), and how this relates to modern law. I am particularly interested in theories of possession and trespass, and whether ideas of relativity of title can still exist under the present day regime of land registration.

Thesis Title

An investigation into adverse possession and its existence as a judicial construct.

Supervised By

Dr Ben Mayfield

Dr Lu Xu

Thesis Outline

The purpose of the thesis is to explore the notion that adverse possession, as it is normally defined, does not exist. Using an extended literature review of historical and legal sources, a hypothesis has been constructed around the power theory of Michel Foucault and the performativity theory of Judith Butler. This hypothesis will be tested using a black letter analysis of the case law.


The research demonstrates that the landed gentry were afforded a special place in English society and because of this received special treatment. The courts were able to use legal rhetoric to ensure that their position was not usurped


Possession exists, which creates a title and this title is relative to any other title which prevails in that land. Adverse possession, squatting, land theft, ouster etc were judicial constructs or legal fictions intended to protect land owners who were, historically at least, the landed classes.

Current Teaching

Property Law

Criminal Law

Health Care Law

EU Law

Public Law

English Legal System

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