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How to stop a boundary dispute with a neighbour from spiralling out of control

Neighbours who were once good friends have fallen out over just 17 inches of garden in a boundary dispute which has left them both at least £90,000 poorer after legal costs.

Even the County Court judge who heard the case (Davis & Anor v Winner [2021] EW Misc 25 (CC) (24 November 2021) confessed it was ‘beyond my comprehension’ how the row had escalated to such an expensive conclusion.

Here at Wards Solicitors, we are highly experienced in handling boundary disputes and can explain what you can do to stop a difference with your neighbour from getting out of hand to this extent.

What happened in this case?

The dispute was over the location of fences between two houses in Walsall replaced after some storm damage.

The claimants said that their neighbour had intruded onto their land by putting up one fence which encroached by nine inches onto their front garden and another which encroached by eight inches on to their back garden.

However, the judge ruled that the disgruntled couple had failed to prove encroachment, adding that even if they had, he would have come to the ‘unhesitating conclusion’ that their next-door neighbour had established there was an informal boundary agreement between them anyway.

However, he did find that the defendant’s father had behaved disgracefully when he was filmed throwing waste over the fence and said any repeat of this kind of action might justify the granting of an injunction.

How do you prevent a boundary dispute from escalating?

Judges involved in this type of dispute have long been calling for warring neighbours to try to resolve their problems through mediation rather than battling it out at vast expense in the courts.

Coming to an agreement is by far the least stressful and most economical way forward. Any agreement reached should be recorded as a deed and registered with HM Land Registry with a plan attached showing the agreed boundary, preferably drawn up by a surveyor.

Of course, this isn’t always possible and sadly there are countless examples of neighbours who have fallen out over a tree, a hedge, a blocked drain or a new fence and ended up, often against all advice, going to court.

Get in touch

For specialist help and advice about boundary disputes, please contact James Murray who is highly experienced in this area of the law and has dealt with a wide range of issues including the position and use of boundaries, damage caused by tree roots, infringing rights of way and rights of light, trespass and harassment.

Email: James.Murray@wards.uk.com

Phone: 01934 428800

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