Boundary dispute? Get legal advice!

Posted: 14th November 2018

Hedge trimmerBoundary disputes between neighbours have a habit of getting out of hand, but legal advice, taken at an early stage, can ultimately save a great deal of anguish and expense.

In a case on point, a couple who cut back their neighbour's hedge without permission were ordered to pay her substantial damages.

The neighbour had been shocked on moving into her recently purchased home to find that the six-metre-high hedge that ran along her western boundary had been cut back hard to the earth bank on which it stood. The couple accepted that they were responsible, but argued that the hedge stood on their land and that they had been entitled to do what they liked with it.

After the neighbour launched proceedings, expert witnesses were deployed on each side during a six-day trial. The judge, who made a site visit and analysed RAF aerial photographs of the hedge, together with legal documents and maps dating back as far as the Victorian era, ruled in the couple’s favour and the neighbour’s claim was dismissed.

In upholding the neighbour’s appeal against that decision, however, the Court found it more probable than not that the boundary had once been marked by a stock-proof fence that had long since been removed. The evidence indicated that the fence had run along the west side of the bank and that the boundary was therefore where the neighbour said it was. The couple were ordered to pay her £22,500 in damages.