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A dispute between two landowners that lasted several years seems to have finally ended, with one of them being fined for failing to comply with a court order.
The two neighbours had been in a long-term dispute about the right of one of them to use the other’s driveway for access to his land.
Eventually, the County Court ordered the owner of the driveway to remove stakes and sockets he had put into it to restrict access and not to obstruct the drive in any other manner. Both parties were ordered not to trespass on the other’s land.
The owner of the driveway removed the stakes, but not the sockets, so his neighbour went to court again to obtain an order to force him to comply, bringing with him photographs showing his neighbour trespassing on his land and evidence that he had blocked access via the drive using tree stumps.
The judge was not amused. He imposed a fine of £2,500 on the owner of the drive for contempt of court and ordered the removal of the tree stumps.
The owner of the drive then claimed that the fine was inappropriate because of procedural irregularities: the original order had not included a ‘penal notice’, which would have informed him of the legal consequences of failing to comply with the order, and the evidence brought to court by his neighbour had not been previously disclosed to him.
The court agreed that the ‘case’ against him had been flawed because of the irregularities. However, a fine for failing to comply with a court order was still warranted and a fine of £750 was substituted.
In this case the neighbours had represented themselves in court throughout the proceedings. However, no matter how inexperienced a litigant may be, the court will always take a dim view of failing to comply with a court order.
Contact us for advice on resolving any similar problem with a neighbour.