Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Neighbour Disputes Needn't Cost Earth

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Neighbour Disputes Needn't Cost Earth

Article excerpt


THERE were two neighbour disputes involving land that came to my attention last week. The first is Faidi versus Elliott Corporation about noise from the flat upstairs suffered by the neighbour below at a cost of pounds 140,000.

The other, reported in The Journal on Saturday, was Oliver versus Berger & Symons about a right of way at a cost of pounds 300,000.

In both cases, the judges were critical of the use of litigation that could have been better referred to mediation to resolve the disputes between neighbours more quickly, less costly and more appropriately.

In the Oliver case, Lord Justice Elias said: "The costs of litigation are enormous and wholly out of proportion to the practical importance of the issue. This is a case which was crying out for mediation, even assuming that it could not have been settled more informally than that. It ought not to have come near a court and, with a modicum of goodwill on both sides, it would not have done so."

Lord Justice Ward went on to say all disputes between neighbours arouse deep passion... they are committing themselves to unremitting litigation which will leave them bruised by the experience and very much poorer, win or lose.

"It depresses me that solicitors cannot, at the very first interview, persuade their clients to put their faith in the hands of an experienced mediator to guide them to a fair and sensible compromise of an unseemly battle which will otherwise blight their lives for months and months to come."

In the Faidi case, Lord Justice Jackson said "... before embarking upon full-blooded adversarial litigation, parties should first explore the possibility of settlement. In neighbour disputes of the kind now before the court (and of which I have seen many similar examples) if negotiation fails, mediation is the obvious and constructive way forward."

He explained that a mediator would not have been concerned about technical points such as the interaction between the various leases, the licence to carry out works or other "interesting points of construction". …

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