Land – Boundary disputes
Disputes regarding boundaries can be highly emotive and expensive. Pragmatic expert legal advice is essential so the parties can be aware in particular of the litigation and costs risks associated with their pursuit or defence of such a claim.
So what does the court consider?
If the land is registered the plans show only general boundaries and not the exact line of the boundary.
Ordnance Survey plans are a general guide to boundary features. They should not be scaled up to delineate the exact position of the boundary.
The court will look at the language in the conveyance assisted by the conveyance plan. If, in the conveyance, the plan is said to be definitive then the plan will guide the court.
If the conveyance is unclear the court will then look at extrinsic evidence such as physical features which existed at the time of the conveyance.
Extrinsic evidence considered by the court might include evidence subsequent to the date of the conveyance if it helps to establish the intention of the parties to the conveyance.
The court might consider physical features post dating the date of the conveyance.
Even where the boundary line can be established by reference to the conveyance other evidence might lead the court to find that there is a different boundary as a result of adverse possession.
The court will also consider whether there exists a boundary agreement. An informal boundary agreement need not be in writing.
There are many uncertainties in this type of case. You should consider mediation to avoid the risks and what are often disproportionately high legal costs. If the conveyance is not clear the steps followed by the court to establish a clear boundary involves a detailed analysis of evidence including documents, photographs, expert surveyors reports and witness evidence. This is expensive to obtain and prepare and takes time and application both for the solicitors involved and for the judge at trial, hence the considerable expense.
Keith Hardington 01756 700 200 [email protected]