The question of where exactly the edge of your property ends and where the adjoining property starts is one that frequently becomes an area that our property dispute department is asked to assist with.
Establishing the precise location of a boundary is not always as easy as it would first seem. It is a common misconception that the title plan for your property, as registered with the Land Registry is the definitive guide to the boundary location. However, registered title filed plans usually show general boundaries only and not an exact boundary line.
Therefore, if a dispute arises it is necessary to look at a number of factors in an attempt to establish the boundary. The case of Acco Properties Ltd v Severn in 2011 set out the principles to be applied to boundary disputes:-
- Ordnance Survey (OS) plans are usually only a general guide to boundary features and should not be scaled up to delineate an exact boundary.
- The starting point is the wording of the conveyance and the conveyance plan or, if the plan is stated to be definitive, guided by the plan.
- If the conveyance is not clear then extrinsic evidence may be considered, for example, features which existed at the date of the conveyance.
- Evidence of the parties’ subsequent conduct may be relevant and admissible if it reveals what the parties intended.
- Evidence of features after the date of the conveyance may be relevant.
- The boundary needs to be clear rather than “fuzzy at the edges”.
- Even if the boundary is clear from the conveyance other evidence may show a different boundary as a result of adverse possession.
- An informal boundary agreement need not be in writing as it demarcates an unclear boundary rather than operating to transfer an interest in land.
- Boundary agreements are usually oral, but can be inferred or implied.
- The court should have regard to what a reasonable layman would think that he was buying.
Litigation can be complex, uncertain and expensive. Therefore, various Alternative Dispute Resolution measures are the preferred option for many to resolve any dispute. This includes mediation.
Also, a recent, new protocol for use in boundary disputes has been developed. This sets out a suggested procedure that the parties to a dispute can agree to adhere to in an effort to resolving matters amicably.
The main aim of the protocol is to agree the instruction of a surveyor on a joint basis to provide an expert opinion on the boundary. We can assist with implementing the protocol and corresponding with the other party.
We also advise and assist clients when they decide to participate in mediation so we can be on hand to provide legal advice, something a mediator does not do. If you have any boundary dispute issues or question please contact us.