CNN host Aly Vance lost her appeal in the High Court after interfering with a neighbouring boundary feature to create a parking space. Stephen Eccles reviews the case below.
Background to the caseMrs Vance wanted to create a parking space in the front garden of her Berkshire cottage in 2015. Whilst her neighbours, the Collertons, were away Mr and Mrs Vance removed a fence and hedge dividing the two properties to make space to access their front garden. In order to access the parking space created, the Vances had to use the driveway which was owned by their neighbours, Mr and Mrs Collerton.
The dispute goes to CourtIn an initial ruling, Central London County Court (Judge Nicholas Parfitt) ruled that the right of way was for unloading and loading a vehicle but not parking. The Collertons argued that the right of way should be construed by reference the width of the gate which existed at the time that the right of way was granted and so did not include a right to access by a car.
Appeal in the High Court
The Vances appealed. In December 2019 the High Court, (Mr Justice Kerr) dismissed the appeal. He found that the white picket fence which the Vances had removed was jointly owned and that the right of way was restricted to the width of a gate and therefore did not include a right of access by a car.
Kerry Bretherton QC of Tanfield Chambers represented Mr and Mrs Collerton.
The full judgment can read here.
Lessons to be learned
The case illustrates the absolute importance of a very detailed history of all features on the ground which are in dispute.
This case demonstrates the significance of mediation as a cheaper alternative to Court proceedings which can resolve some of these disputes and avoid great animosity amongst neighbours. It also underlines the critical importance that neighbours should take legal advice before they begin to interfere with boundary features on the ground. Creating a parking space where there was none before and relying on a right of way over another person’s property, are potentially dangerous things to do without first obtaining good legal advice.
More informationIf you would like to know more about the legal implications of any planned property improvements that may impact on a boundary or are involved in any such disputes with your neighbours it is important to seek proper legal advice at the earliest opportunity. Contact our expert Property Litigation Team who will be happy to advise you.
This article was written by Stephen Eccles, Partner in the Residential Property Litigation Team at Pinney Talfourd LLP. 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 2020.