Riverside boundary dispute focuses on small scale land registry

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Boundaries between properties are usually marked by a line on a small-scale Land Registry plan but they may be invisible on the ground if there are no fences, walls or other features on that line. Precisely that difficulty was the root cause of a bitter dispute between owners of two riverside homes.

The owners could not agree as to the exact location of the boundary dividing their gardens, an issue that affected the extent of their desirable river frontages. The dividing line was not marked by a fence, wall or any other barrier, giving rise to disputes as to precisely where each of the owners should stop mowing the lawn, where they could walk or sit and where they could moor a boat.

With a view to resolving the issue once and for all, the owner of one of the homes applied under Section 60 of the Land Registration Act 2002 to determine exactly where the boundary line lay. His neighbours contended for a boundary that would increase their river frontage by 6.68 metres.

Following a hearing, the First-tier Tribunal (FTT) found in favour of the applicant that his and his neighbours’ landholdings were correctly delineated on a Land Registry plan. That was not the end of the matter, however, as the 1:2,500 scale plan was insufficient to enable precise identification of the boundary on the ground. The FTT found that the boundary lay immediately to the north of a dashed line on the plan which was said to represent an underground drain.

Upholding the applicant’s challenge to the latter decision, the Upper Tribunal (UT) noted that the difficulty in part arose because the thickness of the dashed line on the plan denoted a much wider area on the ground. The FTT’s conclusions concerning the drain conflicted with the agreed evidence of expert witnesses. The UT found that the true boundary ran from the intersecting walls of a churchyard to the northern edge of a riverside buttress.

Determining the exact line of a boundary is often a complicated exercise because plans, particularly old plans, are not always to scale and the lines are often quite thick which can equate to a quite large area on the ground. The tribunal will consider a variety of factors including key transfer plans and, if they are not clear, evidence as to where physical boundaries (if any) have laid over time.

Our dispute resolution team can assist with a variety of disputes including boundary disputes like this. The team have significant experience in achieving the best results for clients not only through proceedings in the land tribunals and civil courts but also through mediation, negotiation and other forms of alternative dispute resolution (ADR).

For further information or to get in touch with us please contact a member of the team today.

Rachel Fereday

Partner and Head of Litigation & Employment

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