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£70,000 legal bill in row over garden hedge

They have been to court numerous times, accumulated legal costs of £70,000 and say they are prepared to spend time in prison – and all because of a row with their neighbour over a garden hedge.

For Steve and Sandra Marshall it all began back in 2012 when they found a middle section of their hedge had been cut away and so began their battle with Churchill Insurance which represents their neighbour, an 83-year-old woman, about who owns the offending shrubbery.

Possible prison sentence

Although a judge has ruled that Churchill can come onto the couple’s land, Mr and Mrs Marshall won’t hear of it – and turned away surveyors recently – meaning they risk a fine, or even a prison sentence, for breaching a court order.

Mr Marshall has said: “The injunction says we have to let the boundary surveyors onto the property but no way are we going to do that.

“It also says we can’t cut the hedge and have to let someone else on to our property to cut it twice a year. If we are breach of that and go against it, we will be in contempt of court and could lead to a fine or time in jail.

“The stress has been terrible.”

More and more judges now calling for mediation in neighbour disputes

The case is yet another example of the vast expense that can be incurred when the mediation route is ignored in favour of pricey litigation.

A growing number of judges are now calling for mediation in neighbour disputes and some have also suggested it might be time for the courts to help sort things out by standard direction. This could require the court proceedings to be stayed for a couple of months or so in order for the parties involved to attempt mediation.

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