CONF-DEC2022 Session VIII – Land Piracy: A Retelling of the Story of Squatting & Adverse Possession in Jamaica

The statement of the Bar President, in his personal capacity, earlier this year prompted us to interrogate the historical and legal origins of Squatting and Adverse Possession with a view to ascertaining the mischief behind legislation and policy that seemingly gives a “bly” to squatters.


This Presentation will take the audience through the historical context of squatting/adverse possession in Jamaica while examining the origins and effects of legislation passed since the late nineteenth century which is now ubiquitous with land and interests in land. We draw the connection between the post-emancipation settlement practices of the formerly enslaved and policy of the colonial government showing how they have influenced the current state of land ownership in Jamaica. We also take a look at the origins of Indefeasibility of Title principles (Mirror, Curtain and Insurance) which are foundational to our Torrens derived Registration of Titles Act.


We go on to detail the current status of squatting policy as well as the overlap between it and the concept of adverse possession as it has evolved through legislation and the courts.


An in-depth examination will be conducted of the jurisprudence surrounding dispossession and acquisition of title by Adverse Possession against the backdrop of consistent calls for legislative change over the years. Lastly, we discuss the appropriateness for legislative, policy or administrative change

Erica Simon BA, LLB
Erica is a Senior Assistant Director of Legal Reform (Acting) with the Legal Reform Department, which she joined in 2015 as a Legal Officer. In that capacity she conducts legal research and provides advice on a wide range of highly specialized issues to the Ministries of the Government of Jamaica in area such as Bail, Cybercrimes, Criminal Records Expungement, Monetary Penalties and Squatter Management. Prior to joining the staff at the LRD, she was an Associate with the law firm Darby Darby & Associates. There she had conduct of Conveyancing, Probate, Administration, Family Law and Personal Injury matters.