On the 7th February 2017, Magistrate Joanne Vella Cuschieri in the case Camilleri vs. Azzopardi et held that a co-owner possessing property adjacent to the land commonly owned with other parties, may demand such part of the latter property as is adjacent to the property already owned by him upon division of the property between them.
In this case, the parties jointly purchased an undivided plot of land in the limits of Nadur, Gozo. In a subsequent contract, many years later, this plot of land was duly divided into six portions, each party being assigned two plots of the aforementioned land. However, one small portion of this land was prohibited from being divided between the parties by the respective authorities and thus remained commonly owned between them.
Although the dividing lines between these plots of lands were established in the aforementioned contract, a dispute arose between Camilleri and Azzopardi as to where the dividing lines were actually placed. They failed to reach an agreement as to the exact portion of land which had been assigned to the plaintiff and that assigned to the defendant. The plaintiffs thus argued that this should be determined by the Court in a clear and permanent manner.
The Court, however, relying on the technical expert appointed by it, found that the dispute arising between the parties was unfounded as the dividing lines were already clearly and precisely established in the contract. The plea was dismissed on the ground that although the plaintiffs tried to settle this dispute in good faith, the defendants kept raising arguments without any good reason whatsoever.
Furthermore, Camilleri et no longer wanted to remain in a state of common-ownership with the defendants, pleading to the Court to duly divide the remaining portion equally amongst all owners. The defendants argued that this was as yet undivided due to the fact that the government sought its ownership for development as a green area or in order to build a street in the public interest.
The Court concluded that the parties had every right to ask for the division of property. Moreover, given the fact that the plaintiffs were previously assigned a plot of land adjacent to the land still commonly owned between them, it was argued that in terms of Article 503 they were entitled to that portion of the undivided land commonly owned adjacent to the plot of land already owned by the plaintiff. Having apportioned this part to the plaintiffs, the Court then assigned the remaining portion to the other parties in equal portions.
The Court finally appointed Notary Dr Maria Vella Magro so as to ensure that the division of the remaining plot of land commonly owned between the parties takes place within a month from the judgement.
Av. Malcolm Mifsud
Mifsud & Mifsud Advocates
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