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Neighbours’ Row Over Garden Shed Costs £140,000

The case below is a prime example of how not to deal with a neighbour dispute.  The first advice I give any client in such a situation is, buy your neighbour a bottle of wine, forget your ego and talk to them.

Sometimes this is not possible and matter proceeds to court.  The Judges despise such matters in their courts, the costs of the case below is a good example why.  The old cliche of only the lawyers win comes to mind.

I am unsure as to why the lawyers in this case did not pick up on the fact that a newer conveyance had no details of the width of a right of way, but it appears to have been a costly error.

Disagreements between neighbours can usually be resolved with a little legal advice and goodwill on both sides. However, in one case where that sadly did not happen, a homeowner was left facing a six-figure legal costs bill after an abortive attempt to make an elderly couple move their garden shed and raised flower bed.

The man claimed that the structures encroached on a right of way giving access to the rear of his property. A land conveyance dating back to 1923 stated that the right of way should be 16 feet in width and he launched proceedings on the basis that the shed and flower bed had reduced that to 10.5 feet, creating a bottleneck that could not be passed by larger vehicles.

In rejecting his claim, however, a judge noted that the shed had been in place for more than 30 years, and the flower bed for over 40 years, and that their presence pre-dated construction of his home. When he purchased the plot on which his property was built it could not have been envisaged that he would enjoy a right to drive vehicles over structures that were already in situ.

In dismissing his challenge to that ruling, the Court of Appeal noted that there was no reference to a width of 16 feet in the conveyance by which he acquired the building plot in 2007. By that date the shed and flower bed had already been in place for decades. The man was ordered to pay the legal costs of the case, estimated at about £140,000.

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MLA 2017 18 Shortlisted 2