A recent landmark verdict at the Court of Appeal relating to the Davies v Bridgend County Borough case could signal a wave of Japanese knotweed litigation.
Japanese knotweed is a particularly destructive plant. It can grow in most soil conditions found in the UK and in man-made structures such as roads and buildings. Once spread, it can be extremely difficult to remove and can damage the structural stability of building foundations and walls. The mere presence of Japanese knotweed can devalue a property’s value significantly.
Mr Davies had Japanese Knotweed in the garden of his terraced house and claimed this had spread from a Council owned cycle track. He claimed devaluation in the value of his premises.
At the initial Hearing in Swansea County Court, he was denied compensation because the Judge ruled that although the Japanese Knotweed constituted a “nuisance” in law, there were no damages payable where the only loss was purely economic. Mr Davies appealed to the Circuit Judge of the Court and the initial decision was affirmed.
Mr Davies then appealed to the Court of Appeal. The Court of Appeal decided pure economic loss was recoverable in a nuisance action and Mr Davies was awarded £4,900 in damages. According to law reports in The Times, the dispute will cost the Council about £300,000 in legal costs.
The barrister representing Davies at the Appeal Hearing said “it confirms that a homeowner who suffers a loss in the value of their home from the stigma left by Japanese Knotweed even after it has been treated can recover damages for that loss”.
It is believed this is the first Court of Appeal decision ruling on Local Authority liability.
Pinney Talfourd Partner, Stephen Eccles has successfully defended claims for compensation relating to Japanese Knotweed arising from misdescription in the Property Information Questionnaire (TA6) and can provide expert advice.
Please do not hesitate to contact a member of Property Litigation team on 01708 511 000 should you wish to discuss anything further.
The above is meant to be only advice and is correct as of the time of posting. This article was written by Stephen Eccles, Partner in the Property Litigation team at Pinney Talfourd LLP Solicitors. The contents of this article are for the purposes of general awareness only. They do not purport to constitute legal or professional advice. Specific legal advice should be taken on each individual matter. This article is based on the law as of February 2023.