Removing a hedge could be costly

Removing a hedge could be costly

As Farmer Freddy sits back in his favourite chair, warming himself by the open fire, a thought suddenly occurs to him about his planned activities for tomorrow.

“Pebbles,” begins Freddy. “I was thinking that tomorrow I might start clearing out that old hedge at the far boundary. It doesn’t serve much of a purpose anymore and, with it gone, the view from the kitchen will be a lot better.”

“But…” prompts Pebbles, sensing where the conversation might be headed.

“But I’m a little concerned,” continues Freddy, “that it might cause a slip onto John’s land at the bottom of the hill.”

“How big is the risk of that happening?” queries Pebbles.

“It probably won’t happen, but it might. And John’s still a bit touchy from the time I backed into his gate so I’d like to avoid angering him further. Have you got any suggestions?”

“Well, as you know,” begins Pebbles, “if you do cause a slip onto John’s land you may very well be liable.”

“Even though I’m clearing a hedge from my own property, and not entering his property at all?”

“Yes that’s right, Dad,” replies Pebbles. “It is very important for landowners to consider how things done on their property may impact neighbouring properties. If removing a hedge causes a slip onto John’s land, he may have a claim in the tort of nuisance.”

“The basic principle,” continues Pebbles, “is that if you do something on your property that risks interfering with John’s ability to use his (and that inference is substantial and unreasonable), John might be able to recover damages from you. Those damages would reflect the amount it costs to fix the problem.”

“I see,” replies Freddy. “Well maybe I should go and talk to John first to see if he has any thoughts on the matter. It may well be that he hates the hedge and therefore won’t care if its removal causes a bit of a slip.”

“That’s a great idea, Dad. It’s always better to talk to the neighbour first before doing anything which might affect them.”

“And who knows,” continues Pebbles, “if it does turn out that he wants the hedge gone he might even offer to pay towards the cost of removing it!”

 “That would be brilliant!” exclaims Freddy. “I’ll go see him first thing tomorrow.”

The content of this document is necessarily general and readers should seek specific advice on particular matters and not rely solely on this document. 

If you would like more information on any of the topics in this document, please contact your usual Auld Brewer Mazengarb & McEwen adviser. 


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