Where do we draw the line in boundary disputes?

21 Apr 2017

The Property Boundaries (Resolution of Disputes) Bill has been sent to the committee stage at the House of Lords for consideration after being read for a second time in December last year. The Bill proposes a new dispute resolution procedure for boundary and rights of way disputes with a view to reducing time and costs. It is modelled on that currently used in party wall disputes.

Boundary disputes are seldom solely about the boundary. These disputes are renowned for attracting legal fees which extend far beyond the proportionality of the land in dispute. It is not uncommon for these neighbourly disputes to arise out of a point of principle which lead to deep-rooted and entrenched positions as ‘every Englishman’s home is his castle’.

When the case eventually lands in front of a judge, it is not unusual to see the parties reprimanded for not taking a sensible approach without recourse to the courts. These disputes are often time-consuming and expensive affairs for courts and parties alike.

The Bill would enable a neighbour to serve notice to a neighbour/beneficiary with a plan illustrating the purported extent of the boundary/right of way. If consent is not given within 14 days then the parties appoint an agreed joint surveyor who can make a decision  and settle the dispute ‘on the ground’. The parties have 28 days to appeal to the High Court or else the finding will be deemed conclusive. 

However, commentators have noted that the Bill does not appear to take into account the complexity of boundary disputes which often involve a number of legal issues which fall outside the remit of a lone surveyor.

The Bill only offers a bordered compulsory alternative dispute resolution with no inclusion of other methods such as mediation. Also, it appears that no consideration has been given to when a neighbourly landowner cannot be identified.

However, although met with criticism, the Bill is a welcome attempt to avoid acrimonious and costly court battles. We shall be keeping an ear to the ground over the next year to see how the Bill endures the amendment process of the committee stage.

Further reading

Remote working and home security

Blog, News & PR
With a large proportion of the workforce now working from home, security arrangements for home workers need to be addressed - Robert Ganpatsingh explains
Read more Read

Tenants take note: dilapidations damages to be subject to VAT

Blog, Legal Updates
Property expert Cheraine Williams explains why dilapidations could be about to get more expensive
Read more Read

Covid business interruption insurance payments due to small and medium companies

Blog, Legal Updates
Partner Jonathan Compton looks at the Supreme Court’s decision on business interruption insurance
Read more Read

DMH Stallard’s corporate team shortlisted for four awards

Blog, News & PR
Current Corporate Law Firm of the Year hoping to hold on to the title in 2021
Read more Read
  • Brighton Office

    1 Jubilee Street


    East Sussex

    BN1 1GE

  • Gatwick Office

    Griffin House

    135 High Street


    West Sussex

    RH10 1DQ

  • Guildford Office

    Wonersh House

    The Guildway

    Old Portsmouth Road



    GU3 1LR

  • Horsham Office

    Ridgeland House

    15 Carfax


    West Sussex

    RH12 1DY

  • London Office

    6 New Street Square

    New Fetter Lane


    EC4A 3BF

  • Get in touch