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HOW CAN BOUNDARY DISPUTES BE RESOLVED?
Firstly, we need to be realistic about expectations. The important thing with the “general boundary” system is that costs need to be emphasized.
There are only really three realistic ways of dealing with a boundary dispute, namely:
1. Give it to the neighbour and wave the white flag – cost £0
2. Enter several months of futile correspondence – cost £2,000
3. Take the litigation/arbitration/alternative dispute resolution route – cost between £10,000 and £150,000 It needs to be made absolutely clear that the participant in a boundary dispute is unlikely to be able to recover all of the costs involved and there is the possibility of losing, in which case the costs could be much larger against the losing party.
The other thing to highlight is that these disputes are not resolved quickly and in practice, take between one and two years, or even longer to get through. They involve getting an expert surveyor’s report (which on its own can cost between £1,000 and £4,000 depending on the expert involved). Evidence that can help solicitors and surveyors reach a conclusion include old photographs, clear copies of deeds, Land Registry data, previous topographic surveys and the important summary of the background to the dispute.
Once a surveyor’s report is found, it can be referred to barristers for a more detailed view and verbal opinion at the kitchen table. It is our advice and belief that one should only litigate if the surveyor’s report and the barrister’s opinion are favourable.
Both parties need to think hard about whether or not litigation is preferable to trying to resolve the issue and giving in to whatever the neighbour has done (or is perceived to have done) and instead booking a holiday of a lifetime with some of the money saved.
In our experience, the best scenario is a meeting of the experts, who themselves can prepare a schedule of agreement and disagreement and surveyors in London tend to have a more aggressive and blunt approach and a final agreed or disagreed schedule is then useful for both parties and lawyers. “Nice” surveyors are often reluctant to wield the stiletto and reach a sensible conclusion and often a bland report is obtained at the end.
Often a single joint expert can also be appointed, which has advantages and disadvantages which we can advise on.
Mediation is also another way to resolve a neighbourly dispute, for the simple reason that every aspect of the unpleasantness can be resolved, whereas in court, parties are strictly limited to the statutory Civil Procedure Rules.
Should you have any further queries, please do not hesitate to get in touch.
Director and Notary Public
Hughes Paddison Solicitors
10 Royal Crescent, Cheltenham, Gloucestershire, GL50 3DA
Direct Dial: 01242 586868