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Boundary disputes can take a long time to resolve and can be ruinously expensive, as a recent case illustrates.
It involved a teacher who put up a fence along what she thought was the boundary of her property. Her neighbours did not agree.
The potential for a dispute was clear because she had to apply for planning permission for the fence and the difference of opinion over where the boundary lay was evident early on when her neighbours marked out a line inside the line she considered marked the edge of her property.
The difference in the positions was a little more than a foot.
Undaunted, the woman constructed a fence along ‘her’ boundary line, and the matter ended up in court. The judge decided upon a compromise, holding that the neighbours’ view as to the boundary line was correct but denying their application to have the fence removed. Instead, he awarded them damages of £2,866.
However, the damages were small beer compared with the legal costs awarded against the teacher, which amounted to some £50,000. Her objection to those culminated in a belated attempt to challenge the costs order, but this has now been rejected as she lodged her complaint after the time limit for doing so had expired.
Says Richard Forskitt, “Boundary disputes are almost always very lengthy and complicated and the costs of resolving them routinely exceed the value of the property concerned by a long way. In order to have the best chance of obtaining resolution at reasonable cost, without resorting to court proceedings, it is essential to take legal advice at an early stage.”