A letter from the Land Registry Head Office.
RE. Registration of land covered by water.
Thank you for your letter dated 17 March. Please accept my apologies for the delay in responding.
As part of a review of the Land Registry ’s approach to the application of general boundaries in 2009, the methodology for mapping land abutting a non-tidal river was examined.
Previously, the convention adopted was that where a parcel of land abutted a non-tidal river, but the title deeds were silent as to the inclusion or exclusion of the river and there was nothing to cast doubt on the ad medium filum presumption (that adjoining landowners own to the mid-point of the river), the title plan would be mapped to include half of the non-tidal river’s width within the red edging. If the title deeds specifically included or excluded the river, then it was included within, or shown outside, the red edging (as appropriate).
Our view now is that, generally, titles founded on the ad medium filum presumption are unsatisfactory, the presumption (like any presumption) being rebuttable. We are likely therefore to exclude rivers from the red edging on the title plan unless a satisfactory title has been deduced. Nevertheless, as with highways, this is only a convention and we will depart from it if there is thought to be good reason in a particular case for doing so.
It needs to be remembered that the inclusion in, or exclusion from, the red edging of the whole or part of the river is not conclusive as to ownership. All registered title plans show only the general position of boundaries, unless they are shown as having been determined as exact boundaries pursuant to section 60 of the Land Registration Act 2002.