A boundary dispute is a dispute between owners of neighbouring land relating to the position of the legal boundary which bisects their properties. More often than not these disputes lead to protracted and costly disagreements over what is often a very small area of land, cause significant distress and loss of enjoyment of a person’s home and become a significant blight to their main asset. These disputes, especially if they end up before a Court or Tribunal, are frequently vastly disproportionate, in terms of legal fees on both sides, to the value of the land in question.
In an attempt to address this, the Property Litigation Association published a Boundary Disputes Protocol (‘the Protocol’) on 28 September 2017. The Protocol does not form part of the Civil Procedure Rules and it is not legally binding; and, so it is for the parties to agree that the Protocol should apply. However the Property Litigation Association, of which I am a member, promotes its use as it provides a sensible approach to resolving boundary disputes before they escalate and become protracted and costly for everyone involved.
The main points of the Protocol are as follows:
1. It provides a process to help the parties resolve their dispute in a timely and cost effective way;
2. It sets a timetable for the parties to take various steps including the early exchange of relevant information such as all previous conveyances and deeds relating to the properties;
3. To encourage the use of alternative dispute resolution such as negotiations, mediation, arbitration or expert determination in order to avoid court or tribunal proceedings;
4. To help the parties identify when the evidence of an expert surveyor is necessary and how such evidence should be obtained and exchanged;
5. It provides a process, and guidance, for dealing with adverse possession claims; and
6. If an agreement is reached it should be recorded clearly and properly.
The dedicated Property Disputes Team here at Leathes Prior welcomes the Protocol particularly the requirement on the parties to exchange, at an early stage, all past conveyances not least because of the common misunderstanding, as set out in our earlier article titled “Boundary quandary – common misconceptions surrounding boundary disputes”, that Land Registry plans alone are central to determining the positon of a boundary.
If you require advice on any boundary issue or assistance in resolving a boundary dispute then please do not hesitate to contact our Property Disputes Team on 01603 610911.
Note: the content of this article is for general information only and does not constitute legal advice. Specific legal advice should be taken in any specific circumstance.