Boundary Disputes and Mediation

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Frequently disputes arise between neighbours in relation to the boundary between their respective properties. It is quite common for problems to arise as a result of one owner replacing a fence that was on the existing boundary with one that is not where the old fence was situated either by mistake or purporting to correct an encroachment by their neighbour on their land.

The situation between neighbours will often become inflamed and too personal to be resolved easily and these types of dispute often reach the Courts despite the fact that the value of the land in dispute is of little value other than to the parties involved in the dispute.

Recently in the case of Huntly v Armes [2010] EWCA Civ 396 where the dispute involved 14 inches of  land it was noted that the longer the case carries on the more entrenched and emotive the clients become despite the rising legal costs. It is for this reason that it is necessary to take stock and evaluate what it is you want to achieve and what is at risk. Litigation is always a risk.

The Courts have indicated for some time now that these types of dispute are highly suitable for mediation in view of the substantial legal costs involved of getting the matter for trial. Mediation is a meeting between the parties and their advisers and the mediator with the aim of reaching a compromise between the parties. However, discussions held are not binding unless the parties chose to reach agreement. Parties involved in Mediation have a very good chance of resolving the matter and it is a very cost effective way of resolving the dispute.

More often than not the party that has attempted to move the boundary will be relying solely upon the Land Registry plan and will not take into consideration any other aspect such as any agreement reached by their predecessor in title and their neighbour in respect of the boundary.

Generally, it will be necessary to investigate all the title documents going back several years. However, the first step is to check the description of the property in the Conveyance or Transfer and any plan attached to it. Too often owners simply rely upon the Land Registry plans and ignore the description in the title deeds.

You should beware of doing so as sometimes the plan is described as being “for identification purposes only”. In this situation the Courts will tend to rely more upon the description of the land contained in the title deeds rather than the plan.

Where the deeds state that the land is: “more particularly described in the plan attached hereto” then the Courts will give more weight to the plan when determining the boundary between the properties.

Generally, a solicitor will need to be instructed to handle a boundary dispute as they can be quite complex and it may well prove necessary to instruct a surveyor to produce a report.

If an amicable agreement can be reached between the parties then they can have the matter recorded at the Land Registry so that no confusion arises in the future.

Owners should always bear in mind that should they be proposing to sell their property that any dispute with their neighbour must be disclosed and one regarding the boundary will have a damaging effect on the value of their property unless resolved.

The advice given above is of a general nature and is not intended to be specific legal advice as cases must be assessed on their own individual facts.

Quinn & Co have expertise in all property litigation matters and would be able to assist you should you be involved in a property dispute. To discuss your matter with us please contact Joseph Quinn on 01392 248858.

 

This article does not constitute legal advice. Specific legal advice should be taken before acting on any of the topics covered.

 

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