Who is legally responsible if large dog gets through hedge?

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Re: Who is legally responsible if large dog gets through hed

Postby span » Tue Sep 30, 2014 9:54 pm

jw40 wrote:As a childminder, I have to keep the children I look after safe so we currently only go into my garden when A) I am with them and B) I have checked that the dog is not outside. If the dog is outside we don't go out and if the dog is let outside while we are out there, we immediately come in. And I have a written policy stating this.

But I look after older children and I would like them to be able to go into the garden without having to come back in at a moment's notice.

It was our neighbour who said it was our responsibility to erect a fence on our side to stop his dog coming in, so he knows it is happening. I am just trying to ascertain whether it is in fact our responsibility to stop the dog coming in or his responsibility to stop the dog getting out, when it is our boundary.

Thanks for the mostly sensible comments posted!


If you want to really wind up your neighbour - tell him his dog has attacked and bitten one or two of the children, and he'll be hearing from the police and compensation-chasing solicitors in due course. Maybe ask him for details of his insurance whilst you're at it.

You're lying of course, but just watch his face.....
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Re: Who is legally responsible if large dog gets through hed

Postby COGGY » Tue Sep 30, 2014 10:00 pm

In the circumstances I think you are much wiser to have the fence erected. The dangers of the dog attacking children are too bad to risk. Parents may also become worried about the risk of the dog. I appreciate that you have safety measures set out but if a dangerous dog situation was in the news you might find children not coming to you. Besides which, your own safety needs to be considered.

Kind regards Coggy
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Re: Who is legally responsible if large dog gets through hed

Postby arsie » Tue Sep 30, 2014 10:10 pm

You are between a rock and a hard place, given your childminding. Sorry if my postings have been curt. It did not register :(

The law is, that he has to keep his dog under control or he faces criminal charges for any consequences. You, on the other hand, are faced with potential commercial disaster and possibly private law action for injury or worse to the children in your care. The fact that you are responsible for the boundary doesn't mean a lot - you could let it go hang if you did not have this sort of business to run - which fact this unscrupulous neighbour is using to his advantage.

Now you have reminded me of your business, I would do as you are, put up chain link fencing ASAP. By all means tell him he is a shit but don't even think about surreptitiously feeding his dog(s) something to give them the runs ;) Only partly joking.

What I would do, seriously, is write to him stating the law about keeping his dog under control and seeking a substantial contribution to the cost of the fence which you, perforce, have to erect ASAP. Your business was already there and he full well knew it was there when he took on this untrained unmanageable dog. Explain that, failing agreement, you will consider using the small claims track to recover his contribution. It costs £30 to claim online (MCOL).
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Re: Who is legally responsible if large dog gets through hed

Postby mr sheen » Tue Sep 30, 2014 11:03 pm

Any written correspondence to the neighbour about the fence and dog illustrates that you are fully aware of the situation ie on notice, and would make the situation worse in the event you don't fence your garden and the dog injures someone.

No real option but to fence ( or give up the childminding business at those premises). Since you are fully aware that this dog is getting into your garden and it is your perception that it poses a risk....presumably a risk assessment has been carried out...potential hazard - dog gets through hedge; to reduce risk - fence garden securely.

Without the business element of looking after children it would be the neighbours responsibility but this situation is exceptional - these are effectively business premises where the business is protecting children and failure to protect them will lie with you.

Small claim will probably fail...he who wants a fence pays.
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Re: Who is legally responsible if large dog gets through hed

Postby MacadamB53 » Wed Oct 01, 2014 12:01 am

Hi jw,

the business is protecting children and failure to protect them will lie with you.

I trust you already knew this - hence the written policy.

how's about sticking with the policy in the short-term whilst you help your neighbour realise how his lack of control is illegal and his dog entering your property is unlawful - send him a friendly and polite note urging him to speak to a sols.

as for the "your" boundary guff - it isn't "your" boundary at all.
boundaries are imaginary lines which indicate where lands abut one another.
you are under no obligation to have any "boundary feature" (fence/wall/hedge/ditch) along that edge of your property - fact.
equally, he is under no obligation to have a boundary feature along the corresponding edge of his property - fact.
you have a responsibility to keep children under your care safe - so you've adopted a sound policy.
he is legally required to keep his dog under his control at all times - but he's not so he's committing a criminal offence.
allowing your dog to enter onto someone else's land is a trespass - an unlawful act.

I'd say he needs to either erect himself a fence or stop letting the dog out.

go see a sols yourself and ask about seeking a court order, report the crime to the police, and contact your council and/or the RSCPA about having the dog caught.

Kind regards, Mac
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Re: Who is legally responsible if large dog gets through hed

Postby jonahinoz » Thu Oct 02, 2014 7:34 am

Hi,

Something in my mind from my schooldays, along the lines of "He knew his rights ... but he was just as dead as if he'd been wrong!"

Your prime objective is to protect the children in your care, getting your neighbour to do anything is secondary. You have done your bit by erecting the fence, although personally I would have preferred something more substantial than wire. Were your contractors aware of why you wanted the fence (Fit for purpose)?

I don't think it would be good to have guns and children on the same premises. Less so if that gun is used to shoot somebody's "pet".The resulting publicity would not be good for business.

There was a case about 20 years at a trekking centre in the Swansea Valley. The yard was full of children waiting to set out on their ponies, when a neighbouring farmer came in, carrying a shotgun, claimed the two GSDs (Alsations) in the yard had been worrying is sheep, and shot them in front of the kids. I have been too close to several gun accidents, best mate shot dead in his garden in Tooting, thru to a Hawker Hunter's 30mm cannon being fired during it's post-flight check. The bullets passed OVER Sharjah village.

Question. Can a dog growling through a fence, frightening children, be regarded as dangerous, according to the Act? The dog is likely to wind himself into a frenzy if his threats are ignored. Maybe your neighbour will be forced to erect his own barrier.

John W
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Re: Who is legally responsible if large dog gets through hed

Postby arsie » Thu Oct 02, 2014 9:33 am

mr sheen wrote:Small claim will probably fail...he who wants a fence pays.

Not at all clear cut in my view.

In the small claims track the judge decides on balance, not 'beyond reasonable doubt'. If the OP proves with evidence the sequence of events is that the business was there first and the large dangerous dog was introduced by next door who then refused to keep it under control, I would certainly be prepared to wager £30 and some time to try and recover £several hundreds. The OP has no choice but to act quickly to protect children from the risk of the neighbour's out of control dog.

Due to his dog, the fence has to be more substantial (and presumably more expensive) than otherwise would be the case. The neighbour is not being reasonable and refuses to do his part to obey the law. This will count in court and the judge may decide to allow quite a large proportion of the cost of the fence. I would claim 50/50, or more at the court's discretion.
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Re: Who is legally responsible if large dog gets through hed

Postby MacadamB53 » Thu Oct 02, 2014 9:44 am

Hi JW,

Your prime objective is to protect the children in your care

I think that is rather obvious - and the OP has told us of the policy they have adopted and documented: stay inside if the dog is let out into the neighbour's garden.

some of us seem rather too keen for the OP to shell out for a fence they DO NOT NEED (not shouting) because their neighbour is behaving so irresponsibly.

if you want to own a dog and let it loose in your garden you need to have appropriate boundary features - but this guy doesn't so he needs to get some - simple.

Kind regards, Mac
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Re: Who is legally responsible if large dog gets through hed

Postby arsie » Thu Oct 02, 2014 10:19 am

Not simple. The neighbour has already made it clear they are not going to put up a fence or contribute. Keeping an eye on children in the garden and in the house every second in case the neighbour lets his large dog out is not enough. The OP will be well aware of the rules on how many staff are required depending on the numbers but it only takes seconds for a large uncontrolled dog to savage a child even if an adult is only a few yards away.The OP is quite right to put up a fence ('self defence' ;)) but I suggest this is just the sort of situation that the small claims court is there for.
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Re: Who is legally responsible if large dog gets through hed

Postby jonahinoz » Thu Oct 02, 2014 5:35 pm

but I suggest this is just the sort of situation that the small claims court is there for.

Hi,

I read of a case where the Plaintiff was suing to recover the cost of structural work to protect against POSSIBLE damage from building works going on next door. The work involved enlarging a basement, I can't remember who the plainiff was, but not a small business. The Plaintiff lost, possibly because you cannot sue for the cost of protecting yourself if damages do not occur ... or possibly because the firm next door was a High Street bank. Whatever, it wasn't a Small Claim.

John W
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Re: Who is legally responsible if large dog gets through hed

Postby arsie » Thu Oct 02, 2014 7:38 pm

Interesting case but not the same, John, and there must have been more to it to proceed in full court with its costs/risks.

So are you suggesting the OP waits until the dog (again) runs loose out of control? Theoretical - and I'm sure you are not.

I personally wouldn't wait. This is not at all like 'possible' damage from building works digging a basement, something that might or might not occur and where there is no specific law being broken or ignored. Whereas there is a specific law about dogs running loose and the owners responsibility and there are already witnesses that the dog is uncontrollable. A judge in the small claims court takes each case on its merits. I believe the OP's predicament would receive a sympathetic hearing, especially as she (will have)/has discharged her own legal commitments with alacrity and has acted responsibly. Whereas the neighbour has specifically refused to act upon his responsibilities. Judges take a dim view of people flouting the law.

Well worth an online claim. No legal costs. £30 claim fee would not be a huge loss and a good change of winning imho.
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Re: Who is legally responsible if large dog gets through hed

Postby arborlad » Thu Oct 02, 2014 8:05 pm

jw40 wrote:Hi Please can someone help me?

We have recently moved into a house where the left boundary in the garden is ours and there is currently a hedge there.



Wholly owned hedges don't make very good boundary features, but at least the neighbour doesn't seem to contest your ownership of it. Any fence should be erected to abut the boundary line, that means it should be erected on your neighbours side of the hedge, not yours.
arborlad

smile...it confuses people
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Re: Who is legally responsible if large dog gets through hed

Postby jonahinoz » Fri Oct 03, 2014 8:51 am

So are you suggesting the OP waits until the dog (again) runs loose out of control? Theoretical - and I'm sure you are not.

Hi Arsie,

No, I'm not suggesting the OP should wait. She has a duty of care to her charges. She should protect her boundaries against any potential intruder ... and in this case the potential is very obvious. What's the American phrase ... something like "Clear and immediate danger"?

Me? I would have high inpenetrable fences all round, but this case doesn't involve my wallet.

Yes, for £30 it's worth a punt (Tax deductable? The fence should be.) As you say, the Judge may be sympathetic, or the defendent may not turn up in court, or he may settle before the hearing. As it stands, he's getting a free fence to confine his dog. At worst, he will have to pay for a fence that he should have paid for anyway, plus £30. If the Court fees were higher, say £100, a rethink may be in order. There is also the matter of a day spent in court, loss of income, etc, which might be a more effective mind concentrator.

John W
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Re: Who is legally responsible if large dog gets through hed

Postby jdfi » Fri Oct 03, 2014 9:34 am

Yes tax deductible, as is the recorded delivery stamp and the envelope for the "letter before action" you must send giving 28 days to pay.
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Re: Who is legally responsible if large dog gets through hed

Postby arsie » Fri Oct 03, 2014 10:38 am

Just checked. MCOL fee for claims under £300 is now £25. A further £25 hearing fee is possible. All refunded if you win.

Though, as John says, you must weigh the time to go to court (if required - evidence can be 'heard' online). Don't forget the neighbour would also have to take time off work to go to court. Of the three claims I have made - and won - the opposition gave in beforehand or 'no showed', when the judge quickly went through my evidence and ruled for me.
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