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Archive for December, 2008

Too many calamitous neighbour disputes

The opening words of Lord Justice Mummery’s judgement in Bradford v James [2008] EWCA Civ 837 remind us to resolve disputes outside the court room.  “There are too many calamitous neighbour disputes in the courts.  Greater use should be made of the services of local mediators, who have specialist legal and surveying skills and are experienced in alternative dispute resolution.”  “Litigation”, he said, “hardens attitudes” and leads to a disastrous conclusion for one party.

The case concerned an acrimonious dispute between neighbours over title to a cobbled area of land.  As is common in such matters, discrepancies arose over the parties’ title deeds and annexed plans.  Judges often find these plans so small and the lines marking the boundaries so thick that they are useless for any thing except general identification.  In consequence, extrinsic evidence, such as topographical features, is often admitted in evidence.  Lord Justice Mummery thought that larger scale, detailed plans showing what is sold and what is retained, recording vital measurements and physical features would minimise risk.

The Land Registry Title Plan, too, can lead to misunderstandings.  It is not and never has been the purpose of this plan to indicate with any accuracy the boundaries of a site.  Whilst carefully prepared by the Land Registry, it is composed not from a minute examination of deeds and the site itself but from use of the ordnance survey map in existence at the time the land is first registered.  As stated in Rule 278 of the Land Registry Rules, except in cases where the boundaries have been fixed, the filed plan indicates general boundaries only.  An application to fix a boundary, whilst expensive, can be made to the Land Registry.

If you want to hear more about boundaries and resolving disputes, why not speak to Hatherleigh Training?