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Boundary Disputes - An Alternative To Litigation

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Boundary Disputes - An alternative to Litigation

Judges are very quick to criticize parties who have proceeded to Court without entering into mediation first.

Mediation is always (or should be) recommended to you by your Solicitor as an alternative to issuing proceedings and running up legal costs unnecessarily.

Mediation provides several advantages. The most obvious being the potentially massive saving you will make in legal fees.

Mediation tends also to bring a faster resolution. If a dispute is taken to Court without mediation, the Judge will often put a stay on proceedings until mediation has at least been attempted.

The longer a boundary dispute goes on for, the harder they are to settle as parties become completely entrenched which makes settlement amicably nearly impossible. Indeed, as legal costs rise, parties seem to fight more on principle and in the hope the other party will have to pay their legal costs if they are successful at court as a form of punishment!

If you are involved in a dispute and have not yet instructed a solicitor, before you do so, you may want to consider approaching RICS (Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors). They are experts in Boundary Disputes and offer a free, 30 minute consultation with one of their experts who will be able to give you sound, impartial advice on the situation you find yourself in.

It may become inevitable that you are in a position where you have to instruct solicitors and if this is the case, you must be prepared that a fully defended boundary dispute can costs you upwards of £20,000 in legal fees. Added to this, if you are not successful at Court, you will in all likelihood be ordered to pay the majority of the other sides legal fees - this will double the legal costs you have to pay.

One of the first cases I ever worked on (right back to my Trainee Solicitor days) ended up in the opposing party losing. The consequence of this was she had her legal fees to pay (£18,000). My client's legal fees were ordered against her (£22,000) and she found herself in a position where her funds had been exhausted and she simply could not pay. We obtained a charge against her property for the legal fees she was ordered to pay and then, we made an application for an Order of Sale of the property.

As you can see, a boundary dispute can have absolutely disastrous consequences for all involved and this is why the Courts and Judges encourage mediation, as should your solicitor!

Any client approaching me for legal advice on boundary disputes will be fully informed of the potential costs consequences if they are to lose and I always, as a first port of call, encourage the parties to mediate before there is much involvement from their Solicitors. This can save tens of thousands of pounds. Solicitors have to act in their client's best interests at all times and mediation is definitely in the best interests of a client.

Next, I will talk about the court procedure and what will happen in a typical boundary dispute if it is to proceed to court.

Richard Howlett is a Partner at Selachii LLP - 02077925649

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