The Times yesterday reported about a neighbour dispute which has resulted in a teacher, Carole Ann Green, being slapped with a £50,000 legal bill over a fence which she installed some 15 inches on her neighbour’s land.
Mrs. Green moved into an exclusive development in the Worcestershire spa town of Malvern. She obtained planning permission to build a holiday let, and once the apartment was built in her garden she found herself in a bitter court battle with her neighbours, Doreen and Victor Elliott, who are both in their 80’s and have lived in their home for more than 25 years.
Mrs. Green rowed with the couple over the width of the driveway visitors would use to get to the holiday rental, which also provides access to her own home. The pensioners set out a row of wooden batons in the ground, claiming they marked the border between their land and Mrs. Green’s drive. But the teacher insisted they had put them in the wrong place and erected a concrete and wooden fence along the line she believed was correct.
Court proceedings quickly followed and Mrs. Green lost her fight when Judge Daniel Pearce-Higgins at Worcester County Court found the fence she had erected alongside an access lane ‘trespassed’ by just more than a foot onto her neighbour's land. The Judge declined the neighbour’s request for an order to pull Mrs. Green’s fence down but did award them damages of £2,866. He went on to say: ‘This is an unhappy case. Like most boundary disputes it has attracted a lot of emotion, it is largely unnecessary and it could have been resolved years ago by a modicum of common sense and a small amount of goodwill.’
Mrs. Green, who fought with her elderly neighbours for five years, says she will now be forced to sell her home to pay her legal costs, which comes up to £50,000.
The 58-year-old said: ‘This lawyers’ bill is going to kill me. It’s wiped out 40 years of full time work. I’ll be 60 next year and I’ve got no savings. I don’t know what I’m going to do. I don’t want to have to rely on the state, I never have. It just beggars belief.’
Cases such as Mrs. Green’s often occur when specialist legal advice is not sought from the very outset. If you are involved in a neighbour dispute, it is important that you know your legal position before costs quickly spiral out of control. We have a team of solicitors who specialise and who have successfully represented clients involved in protracted neighbour disputes. Our team of specialist solicitors can talk you through your dispute in a half hour fixed fee appointment, with a view to trying to resolve your issues or put you in the right direction for your next steps.
If you would like to speak to a member of our neighbour disputes team to discuss your situation then do not hesitate to call us on 01616 966 229.