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THE IMPORTANCE OF NEGOTIATION


A recent case between warring neighbours in Somerset is a valuable reminder of the importance of negotiating property disputes. 

 

In brief, Mr Shorltand and his partner had no direct access to the public highway from their house.  A previous transfer between neighbouring properties provided Mr Shortland with a right of access across Mr and Mrs Hill’s yard but what followed was a lenghly and drawn out dispute.  Mr and Mrs Hill were accused of deliberately restricting and/or denying Mr Shortland access to his property by placing plant pots, children’s toys, a barbeque and table and chairs in his way with a view to creating “maximum inconvenience”.  Over time the dispute esculated to the extent that there were over 200 interventions from police.  The dispute didn’t stop there when both parties began recording events on their mobile phones for evidential purposes. 

 

During the Court proceedings Mr and Mrs Hill asserted that they were morally right to act in the way their did despite the existence of the transfer.  Preciding over the case in the High Court Judge Paul Matthews commented that ‘It is childish behaviour by the defendants and reflects no credit on them or their relatives who took part in this game.’  He formed the view that their actions and sense of “entitlement” was to take away Mr Hills’s rights and could not “help thinking that they have embarked on this campaign deliberately, with a view to discouraging Mr Shortland, little by little, from making any use of the rights which he has, and so render the yard a much more vaulable piece of land than it was when they paid a reduced price for it”

 

In his ruling Judge Matthews found in favour of Mr Shortland on the issue of the right of way and ordered Mr and Mrs Hill to pay 90 per cent of Mr Shortland’s legal costs, estimated to be in the region of £98,000.  Mr and Mrs Hill will also be required to pay their own solicitors costs which is thought to bring the total costs of the dispute to approximately £200,000.

 

The case is a stark reminder of how quickly property disputes can esculate and the importance of resolving the dispute in a cost effective and pragmatic way

 

If you require any advice on neighbour disputes please contact Claire Bentick or David Denovan-Smith.

Added: 08 Feb 2018 10:32


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