Within the Boundary?

Boundary disputes between neighbours, whether the lands are registered or not, are common and can become contentious.  Costs escalate as each party instructs its lawyers and surveyors.

Practising as a chartered surveyor, John Lytton, 5th Earl of Lytton, chairs the RICS professional panel dealing with boundaries and party walls.  He steered the very successful Party Wall etc Act, 1996 through Parliament introducing a statutory procedure for resolving party wall disputes.  He has attempted, on several occasions, to do the same for boundary disputes but his Bills have, to date, failed in their passage through Parliament (as do most private member Bills).  He is presently attempting again with his Property Boundaries (Resolution of Disputes) Bill which had its first formal reading in the House of Lords in July 2017.  The second reading is yet to be scheduled.

If successful, the Act will introduce a procedure commenced by one land owner serving upon a neighbour notice making clear where the land owner purports the boundary between the two lands to be.  The neighbour has 14 days in which to accept or object to the proposal.  If an objection is made, a dispute will be deemed to have arisen.  As with the Party Wall Act, the parties can then jointly appoint a surveyor to resolve their dispute or, alternatively, each appoint their own surveyor.  The two party surveyors will then appoint a third surveyor to resolve the dispute.  If either party issues court proceedings, it shall not be entitled to recover costs.  If proceedings have already been issued, they will be stayed pending outcome of the statutory procedure.  The Bill also relates to disputes re rights of way.  Full details are contained in the Bill and its procedure through Parliament can be viewed on the UK Parliamentary Bills website.

In the meantime, readers may be familiar with ‘Property Protocols’.  The authors include two QCs and a junior barrister from Falcon Chambers and two partners from Hogan Lovells.  They have recently been joined by David Powell FRICS and have published their Boundary Disputes Protocol.  Whilst without any formal recognition, it is supported by the Property Litigation Association and a link to the Protocol and accompanying Guidance Notes appears on the PLA website.

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