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When "Pushing the Boundaries" Goes Beyond Metaphor and Ends Up in Court

View profile for Paul Hajek
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I hope you, like me, are enjoying the current series of Great British Menu on BBC2.

Boundary Dispute in a Courtyard  The themed banquet this year is the Olympics. Top Chefs from all the regions are battling it out to cook one of the four dishes for the banquet.

What you may also have noticed are the running clichés including will the menu be: "fit for Olympians"; has it "raised the bar"; is the menu "groundbreaking" and of course has it "pushed the boundaries".

Now pushing boundaries to hitherto unchartered territories of gastronomy is one thing, quite another when it literally involves your neighbour's property.

"Get Off My Land"

Your man down the pub will (if allowed) regale you with anecdotes about "an Englishman's home is his castle" and "possession is nine tenths of the law" (sadly that last one no longer necessarily true with Land Registry's desire for paperless title to property) and how he had warned someone that they risked being sued if they trespassed on his land.

The latter may only be the occasional bugbear of people like Jeremy Clarkson and "ramblers".  Most people will be able to settle boundary disputes amicably, and most will not involve trespass, as ownership is the actual issue to be resolved.

But you may, if you are very unlucky or exceedingly stubborn, find yourself hugely out of pocket and sitting in the Court of Appeal as happened in a recent case.

Four Feet in Width in Corner of a Courtyard

The extent of a disputed area, which the Court of Appeal was called upon to adjudicate, was four feet in width in the corner of a courtyard.

The Court held that, the correct starting point, should always be an inspection of both sets of title deeds

But, the Court also pointed out that, where a boundary plan was unclear, the actual position on the ground must be taken into account.

In this case, although the plan appeared to show the boundary running along a wall, the position on the ground made it clear that the boundary was along the line of a drain four feet away from the wall.

Is Going to Court Worth It in Boundary Disputes?

The judge said it was highly regrettable it had reached Court at all - the financial outlay "is almost always more than disputed property in worth". Add to that the stress and costs involved of thousands and thousands of pounds.

"He that goes to law holds a wolf by the ears"

The judge in the Court of Appeal LJ Mummery used the following words of advice to potential litigants "he that goes to law holds a wolf by the ears"

The advice the judge continued "anyone wishing to tame the wolf should take advice on the merits of a potential case at the earliest opportunity"

You have been warned!

Get good advice from your Conveyancing Solicitor at the earliest opportunity and listen to what he or she says.

No point in "Pushing the Boundaries" unless you want an Olympic size legal bill on your hands.