Posted: Tuesday, 3 February 2009 @ 10:08
Following on from my article in January's edition of the Cousins Business Law ezine, a recent case has demonstrated the approach of the Court to resolving difficult boundary disputes.
In this case the Court of Appeal summarised the difficulty facing it with these words:
“the dispute has all too many features that are usual and familiar: on the one hand the need for the parties to have their disputes resolved by the court, rather than by any process of sensible discussion, accommodation or mediation (though such processes were at least attempted) and, on the other hand, the fact that the issue turns on the interpretation of a conveyance and its plan, executed 100 years ago this year, in relation to which there is very little information available as regards the relevant surrounding circumstances, and where the information given by the document itself is inadequately detailed.”
The Court confirmed the modern approach to resolving boundary disputes where it is impossible to determine the exact line of the boundary from the deeds. In these cases the Court is entitled to look at the subsequent conduct of the parties in relation to establishing the exact boundary of the property. Whilst, in the normal interpretation of contracts, subsequent conduct is inadmissible as evidence to establish the intentions of the contracting parties, when seeking to ascertain a boundary, an exception applies.
In this case, the erection of a fence by one of the parties to the original deed was deemed to be evidence of the parties' intention to clarify the exact line of the boundary.
The case is another reminder of why you should take some initial advice from your lawyer before you fall out with your neighbour over the line of a boundary.
Steven Petty, Commercial Property Solicitor
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