Legal liability of branches overhanging neighbour

Legal liability of branches overhanging neighbour

Postby countrygent » Tue Oct 18, 2016 2:39 pm

Purely from a legal point of view if a tree has branches overhanging a neighbour's property and a branch were to fall off (by natural causes), and assuming there has been no previous discussion concerning the tree between the two parties, is it the liability of the tree owner or of the neighbour if damage is done to the neighbour's property (eg say it fell on to a building or car) ?
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Re: Legal liability of branches overhanging neighbour

Postby despair » Wed Oct 19, 2016 12:26 am

i wish large tree owners were responsible for all the leaves their trees deposit on a neighbours garden
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Re: Legal liability of branches overhanging neighbour

Postby despair » Wed Oct 19, 2016 1:39 pm

Arborlad i do compost the leaves but the tree is now a real monster and the job is bigger every year and they never fall on owners land
there are limits to all things
and its becoming impossible
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Re: Legal liability of branches overhanging neighbour

Postby TO » Wed Oct 19, 2016 3:47 pm

nothingtodowithme wrote:The owner and/or occupier of land upon which trees stand is generally liable for any loss or damage resulting from falling branches or from falling of the tree itself.
As long as the failure was reasonably foreseeable and they hadn't dealt with it they would be negligent. You could pursue them through the Courts to recover the costs of the damage. Rather your insurance company would pursue them through the Courts.

If the damage wasn't reasonably foreseeable then it would be considered an act of God, and you wouldn't get anything from them.

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Re: Legal liability of branches overhanging neighbour

Postby jongru » Thu Oct 20, 2016 5:41 pm

countrygent wrote:Purely from a legal point of view if a tree has branches overhanging a neighbour's property and a branch were to fall off (by natural causes), and assuming there has been no previous discussion concerning the tree between the two parties, is it the liability of the tree owner or of the neighbour if damage is done to the neighbour's property (eg say it fell on to a building or car) ?


In general nobody will be liable for the damage caused by a falling branch unless you can show that they were under a duty to inspect the tree or its branches (this would apply if it was a local authority park, or land owned by a council) and that the inspection would have revealed that the branch was rotten or insecure.

As a householder you wouldn't be expected to keep carrying out inspections of your trees, unless perhaps it was obvious to a layman that they were dying or diseased.

And as a householder with buildings insurance you should be able to pass any claim to your insurers to deal with. But they won't make any payment if they do not believe you were to blame (for the reasons above) and if it went to court they would represent you with lawyers and pay any legal costs.

Here's an interesting case on the point:
Go to the BAILII website (where transcripts of judgments can be found) and search for Stagecoach South Western Trains v Hind, June 2014
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Re: Legal liability of branches overhanging neighbour

Postby TO » Fri Oct 21, 2016 8:59 am

Hi

All landowners have a duty if care. If you have trees on your land you are expected to check them regularly. If you see anything untoward you should get an arboriculturist to inspect the tree. The judgement in the Stagecoach case was not about the need to inspect, although it was covered, rather, it was in essence, about whether the ordinary person would, during their regular inspections of the tree, been able to see the defect on what appeared an otherwise healthy tree.

In the end it was decided that because the defect was not obvious, even though inspections had been carried out, the tree owner was not negligent.

'I find that Ms Hind‘s duty extended no further than the carrying out of periodic informal or preliminary observations/inspections of the Tree. I find that she was capable of performing that duty and that she complied with that duty. There was nothing that should have alerted her, or put her on notice, that the Tree was anything other than healthy, or required a closer inspection by an arboriculturalist (sic).' The Hon. Mr Justice Coulson: para 87 [2014] EWHC 1891 (TCC)

Guidance for householders on inspecting their trees/discharging their duty of care can be found here. http://ntsgroup.org.uk/wp-content/uploa ... CMS026.pdf

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