Neighbour wanting to sue me!

Neighbour wanting to sue me!

Postby Jordie » Mon Apr 22, 2013 4:30 pm

Hi All

I recently moved into a property and had a new block paved driveway made. I had the fence (my fence) removed and a small wall erected to enclose my property, after notifying the neighbour. My builders built the wall totally on my property, however, the neigbour then stated that I had damaged some of his fir trees that were very close to the border. Upon inspection maybe 4 out of 12 trees were slightly leaning. I got the builder to pat them down and tie them to the more stable trees with some cable. The neighbour then decided this wasnt good enough and after an agressive stand off (I was calm and did not react), proceeded to have all the fir trees removed, replaced with rowans and present me with a bill of £360 for the work.

My question is am I liable for the whole amount due to the following considerations:

1 - I did notify him of my intentions.
2 - I did not touch the trees themselves.
3 - Not all of them were "damaged" after the works.
4 - Why is he replacing firs with rowans.
5 - I respect his privacy and have not pruned any of his other trees where they overhang my property.

Any comments and advice would be greatly appreciated; thanks in advance.
Jordie
 
Posts: 18
Joined: Sat Apr 13, 2013 4:59 pm

Ads are not endorsed by www.gardenlaw.co.uk or the staff thereof and visitors should perform their own due diligence on the product or service offered.
 

Re: Neighbour wanting to sue me!

Postby despair » Mon Apr 22, 2013 4:51 pm

I do not see that he can sue you because well established trees should not realy lean badly after a few roots are cut unless they are way too tall and far too close to the fence
because legally you can cut back to the boundary all roots and branches providing you do not kill the trees
Obviously much depends on exactly what was done and the condition of the trees


If he has now planted Rowans close to your wall you may need to "put him under notice " that should his trees destabilise your wall he will be liable

If he has other trees planted too close to the boundary he needs to remember you can legally cut roots and branches back to the boundary and offer back the arisings
despair
 
Posts: 16040
Joined: Mon Mar 14, 2005 8:07 am

Re: Neighbour wanting to sue me!

Postby Jordie » Tue Apr 23, 2013 10:04 am

Thanks for the comments.

I think he will try to claim damages via the small claims court.

Some of the fir trees were 2m tall, some were 1m tall and some between. Am I correct in thinking he would have to prove beyond reasonable doubt that the trees were dead/beyond repair and that the building of the wall caused it? Surely he should have had a tree surgeons report to confirm the cause and the extent of the damage before replacing?
Jordie
 
Posts: 18
Joined: Sat Apr 13, 2013 4:59 pm

Re: Neighbour wanting to sue me!

Postby Jordie » Tue Apr 23, 2013 10:57 am

nothingtodowithme wrote:Proof of a case beyond reasonable doubt is referred to in criminal cases. The civil courts refer to the balance of probabilities i.e what is most likely the true case based on evidence.


OK, however, does he have a case that the trees needed replacing (without a tree surgeons report for example). I think he is being unreasonable and has jumped the gun by getting them replaced without professional advice. I believe he only has a some photographs showing the smaller trees leaning over slightly....
Jordie
 
Posts: 18
Joined: Sat Apr 13, 2013 4:59 pm

Re: Neighbour wanting to sue me!

Postby despair » Tue Apr 23, 2013 2:27 pm

if the trees were only 1metre or 2 metres tall they must have been exceptonally close to the boundary or very badly planted and the smaller ones could probably have been replanted anyway how long had the trees been there ?
Had they been pruned /trimmed
and yes i believe he has no case to sue you without a valid Arboriculturalist report

Not just any old tree surgeon looking for work giving an opinion
You warned the neighbour what you were doing and so long as your builder was careful in how he cut back the roots and how far he cut them back i cannot see the neighbour has a case
despair
 
Posts: 16040
Joined: Mon Mar 14, 2005 8:07 am

Re: Neighbour wanting to sue me!

Postby Mojisola » Tue Apr 23, 2013 7:23 pm

How close to the boundary are the rowans? They will spread more than the small conifers. Has he chosen them so that they will be a nuisance to you in the future?
Mojisola
 
Posts: 573
Joined: Fri Oct 22, 2010 7:18 pm

Re: Neighbour wanting to sue me!

Postby Jordie » Tue Apr 23, 2013 9:35 pm

despair wrote:if the trees were only 1metre or 2 metres tall they must have been exceptonally close to the boundary or very badly planted and the smaller ones could probably have been replanted anyway how long had the trees been there ?
Had they been pruned /trimmed
and yes i believe he has no case to sue you without a valid Arboriculturalist report

Not just any old tree surgeon looking for work giving an opinion
You warned the neighbour what you were doing and so long as your builder was careful in how he cut back the roots and how far he cut them back i cannot see the neighbour has a case


The trees were actually no more than 20-30cm away from the boundary, and he has had the rowans planted in the same place! I did read somewhere about safe distances to plant tress/shrubs to prevent further nuisance, I guess, I may have a point to pursue on that note also, if it goes to court?

I am sure my builder only dug the required foundations for the wall and there fore only disturbed/cut the roots on my side.
Jordie
 
Posts: 18
Joined: Sat Apr 13, 2013 4:59 pm

Re: Neighbour wanting to sue me!

Postby Jordie » Tue Apr 23, 2013 9:37 pm

Mojisola wrote:How close to the boundary are the rowans? They will spread more than the small conifers. Has he chosen them so that they will be a nuisance to you in the future?


You can bet your bottom dollar, he has!

Can I argue in court that he should only have replaced the damaged trees and it should have been like for like?
Jordie
 
Posts: 18
Joined: Sat Apr 13, 2013 4:59 pm

Re: Neighbour wanting to sue me!

Postby despair » Tue Apr 23, 2013 10:14 pm

If the trees were planted that close to the boundary the neighbour is very very wrong because he has given no thought whatever to the height and spread in 10 yrs info which should be on all tree labels
It seems the rowans have been planted in malice and in a known attempt to undermine the new wall

I believe you are going to need to write a formal letter putting him on notice that as a result of his deliberate planting of an unsuitable species likely to damage your wall in due course he will become responsible be sure to send it recorded delivery
Keep the delivery receipt and a copy of the letter very safe

See what others say too
despair
 
Posts: 16040
Joined: Mon Mar 14, 2005 8:07 am

Re: Neighbour wanting to sue me!

Postby COGGY » Tue Apr 23, 2013 10:20 pm

I agree with Despair. Send the letter Recorded Delivery, keep a copy and print the details of delivery.
COGGY
 
Posts: 1355
Joined: Tue Feb 21, 2012 10:58 pm

Re: Neighbour wanting to sue me!

Postby ukmicky » Tue Apr 23, 2013 10:34 pm

He needs to prove you damaged the trees and that the damage was actionable in a court of law. If this were to go to court you would simply argue that no actionable damage was caused and that there was no need to uproot and replace any of the trees.

He can sue you for anything he wants but he can only win a case of compensation for actual damage to the trees. He cannot win compensation for replacement of undamaged trees .

His opinion does carry weight but not enough on its own to show you are liable without further evidence.

Your opinion however also carries weight.

A putting you on notice letter now really has no point as there is no guarantee that the trees will cause damage so he can ignore it. . It may make him think again and move them further away from the wall but legally the letter mean nothing. He is allowed to plant what ever he likes on his land and walk away without giving your wall another thought.

The only letter that will carry any weight legally is a letter in the future informing him that your wall is showing signs of damage caused by the trees and that you expect action to prevent any further damage within a reasonable time or you will sue for a continuing nuisance
Advice given is not legally qualified and you are advised to gain a professional opinion
ukmicky
 
Posts: 4542
Joined: Sat Sep 27, 2008 10:13 pm
Location: London

Re: Neighbour wanting to sue me!

Postby Jordie » Wed Apr 24, 2013 12:02 pm

Thanks to all for the advice given above.

I will argue my case in court on the following issues:


1- There's no arboriculturalist report confirming the cause and extent of the damage.
2 - The compensation should be limited to any trees confirmed as damaged by my actions.
3 - The replacement trees should have been the same fir trees and not rowans.
4 - He is risking causing a future nuisance/damage to me by planting his rowans so close to the boundary.
Jordie
 
Posts: 18
Joined: Sat Apr 13, 2013 4:59 pm

Re: Neighbour wanting to sue me!

Postby kipper » Wed Apr 24, 2013 12:39 pm

Have you responded to the claim with an offer of settlement or have you just denied the claim completely?
kipper
 
Posts: 855
Joined: Wed Sep 02, 2009 8:10 pm

Re: Neighbour wanting to sue me!

Postby Jordie » Wed Apr 24, 2013 4:29 pm

I have responded to his letter by asking him to contact me for a meeting to resolve amicably which he has not done. Failing that, I did also ask that he furnish me with the photographs and witness statements he allegedly has in his possession.

His reponse was that he is only interested in whether I will compensate him in full for the £360 he has spent.

Hence, I guess it will go to court next...
Jordie
 
Posts: 18
Joined: Sat Apr 13, 2013 4:59 pm

Re: Neighbour wanting to sue me!

Postby kipper » Wed Apr 24, 2013 5:40 pm

I'd be inclined to write and offer a token sum that you think appropriate for the replacement of the trees that were leaning. Emphasise that this is as a good will gesture, as there is no evidence that the tress were not salvageable. This would look reasonable to a judge if he rejected it and took it to small claims for the full amount.

Have you discussed anything with the builder? You may eventually want to claim against him and his liability insurance to cover any costs you incur.
kipper
 
Posts: 855
Joined: Wed Sep 02, 2009 8:10 pm

Ads are not endorsed by www.gardenlaw.co.uk or the staff thereof and visitors should perform their own due diligence on the product or service offered.
 
Next

Return to Trees

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 1 guest