One of the best pieces of advice that a professional can give to a prospective Client, who is about to embark upon boundary disputes is … ‘If at all possible, try your very best to avoid doing this’.
That may seem at face value to be a rather negative approach, but it is truly a fair reflection of the experience of many professional surveyors and legal advisers.
Should you pursue a dispute?
Notwithstanding our advice above, there are occasions from time to time when an unlucky property owner on the one part may be faced with the prospect of having to defend an unwelcome challenge from an adjoining property owner on the second part, who holds a contrary opinion as to the position and/or status of a particular site boundary. In such cases, the first party may have to decide at an early stage, whether to embark upon a series of actions that will inevitably incur him/her with substantial professional fee costs, and without any real certainty that those costs will ultimately be recoverable from the second party, whether or not their defence against the action is successful.
The alternative – capitulation to the second party’s opinions – is in many cases equally unpalatable. The files of professional surveyors the length and breadth of the country are littered with cases where a client decided to fight the neighbour ‘as a matter of principle’; but an experienced practitioner will tell any client that ‘a point of principle’ may turn out to be a very expensive luxury in the long-term. Even comparatively minor domestic boundary disputes can ultimately end up leaving even the ‘successful’ party many thousands of pounds worse off in un-recoverable legal fees.
We are always pleased to discuss boundary matters with our clients and to provide them with property-specific advice. It has been our experience however, that in the large majority of cases, following an initial consultation our Clients invariably take the view that this “point of principle” is not worth the potentially very high cost to pursue.