Boundary Disputes: A recommended approach

17 August 2016

Boundary disputes happen more often than is desirable. They must be treated with caution as grievances tend to linger and fester and neighbours obviously have to co-exist for as long as they live in the adjoining properties. Acrimonious disputes can drastically affect the quality of your life and every effort should therefore be made to avoid them altogether or, in default of that, to resolve them as speedily and as amicably as possible.

Disputes can often become costly as parties become fixed on their particular point of view meaning that they are more likely to pursue a dispute which can become very expensive if court proceedings ensue.

Step 1. Paperwork:
Look at your purchase paperwork regarding the area of concern and if necessary talk to your solicitor who acted for you when you bought.

Step 2. Document:
If the problem is ongoing, keep detailed diary records and photographic evidence of what is occurring.

Step 3. Talk to your neighbours:
If they agree with you then the problem may be capable of early resolution subject only to lawyers documenting the agreed terms.

Step 4. Contact us:
If your neighbour is not happy to discuss the matter or does not agree with your point of view then speak to one of our lawyers who specialises in the resolution of property disputes.

Step 5. Review case:
Once we are instructed we shall review the papers and advise. Invariably it is helpful to have a site inspection in order to be able fully to assess and evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of your case.

Step 6. Gather evidence:
We may require you to gather further evidence concerning the situation. This can involve, for example, reviewing historical family photograph albums and/or obtaining satellite or aerial photographs.

Step 7. Lawyers letter:
We shall prepare an initial letter to the neighbour either on a formal or an informal basis depending on the court rules. This often generates a positive response in which case the dispute is resolved subject only to recording what has been agreed in a binding boundary or other form of settlement agreement.

Step 8. Further action:
If the response received from the neighbour is not satisfactory then it is likely that we will have to take further steps.

Step 9. Mediation:
It may be, at that stage, that we suggest a meeting without prejudice, with lawyers present on both sides or, alternatively, a mediation. The latter involves referral of the dispute to a trained “problem solver” and is frequently the most cost effective route to a solution. A mediated settlement will be recorded in a binding mediation agreement.

Step 10. Court proceedings:
If the mediation is unsuccessful, it does not mean that we cannot continue to attempt to resolve the matter but it makes it more likely that it is necessary to issue proceedings. The dispute will then continue on a formal basis subject to the court rules.

By Lauren Brown & Simon Fulford

For further advice on boundary disputes, please call us on 01483 543210 or alternatively email