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Highway boundaries

General boundaries, legal boundaries and ad medium filum

Most boundaries drawn on HM Land Registry title plans are classed as general boundaries. They are not always the same as legal boundaries. The legal boundary is the boundary as defined when all relevant caselaw and legal presumptions have been applied. The legal boundary is the true boundary of your property, but may not match the general boundary drawn on your title plan.

There is no limit to the amount of land that can lie between the general boundary drawn on your title plan and the legal boundary that is the true boundary of your property. If any features, such as trees, hedges, and ditches, lie in this area the property owner will be responsible for maintaining them, even if this is outside of the boundary suggested by your title plan.

When trying to find the legal boundary of your property, you need to be aware of the most important legal presumption – ad medium filum (meaning ‘up to the middle line’ in Latin). This presumption states that the adjacent landowner to a highway route owns the land up to the middle of that route. If highway rights exist over the surface, the landowner is responsible for the subsoil and the highway authority is responsible for the surface. Land you own due to the ad medium filum presumption won’t usually be included on the title plans from HM Land Registry, as these plans do not show the legal boundary. 

For a more detailed explanation of the difference between Land Registry’s legal boundaries and general boundaries, along with information about how Land Registry produces their title plans, visit HM Land Registry’s Practice guide 40, supplement 3 (opens new window) and HM Land Registry’s Practice guide 40, supplement 5 (opens new window)

You can also contact HM Land Registry (opens new window).

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