Have you got a Boundary Dispute?

They say that an Englishman (or woman’s) home is his castle and as such it is not surprising that people are fiercely defensive of their home and what constitutes their property. In law disputes often arise regarding property boundaries (i.e. boundary disputes) but these can become very expensive very quickly and therefore it is vital you get the right advise at the outset and/or contemplation of such an action as parties can very quickly get entrenched in the dispute and need to find a resolution which can cause the costs to escalate.

In recognition of the often high costs of boundary disputes the Courts encourage early mediation between the parties to try to resolve the issue, often this can provide a very constructive way forward and it is vital to give it consideration before huge legal costs are incurred.

Any neighbour or boundary disputes should exhaust all avenues before resorting to issuing a claim with the Court. In a boundary dispute the first step is to try and establish the boundary, this in itself can be expensive and an expert will be required to undertake this exercise, but it is essential. It may be that a joint instruction of an expert can be agreed with your neighbour to reduce costs as the costs will be shared between the parties. A professional boundary surveyor will review HM Land Registry documents and title deeds, ordnance survey documents, aerial photographs and any topographical information available in order to complete their investigations. This, coupled with a site inspection, allows the expert to produce a plan with the ‘most likely position’ of the boundary and from there the discussions can begin with your neighbours over ownership of the boundary and the best course of action moving forward.

If, following the expert report, you can agree the position of the boundary a boundary agreement can be drawn up by your lawyer, which is signed by both parties and recorded at HM Land Registry. However, sometimes a negotiated agreement or amicable resolution just cannot be reached, or there may be the added complication of a claim for trespass and/or damages which has to be resolved and may require the Court’s intervention by way of an injunction, and Court proceedings are therefore necessary.

If you find yourself having to go to Court, the fight can be long and expensive and unfortunately the outcome will be uncertain in many cases. So it is extremely important to ensure that you obtain legal advice from a lawyer who specialises in property litigation, has experience in boundary disputes and who will be able to guide and advise you through the process.