Disputes between neighbours can be agonising, both emotionally and financially, but taking advice at an early stage can swiftly draw the sting. In one case where matters were allowed to get out of hand, a pensioner was left at risk of losing his home after being ordered to pay in the region of £140,000 in damages and legal costs.
The man had got on well with his neighbours until he carried out excavation works on his land and erected a fence. He did so without consulting his neighbours. There was no dispute that the fence was on the man's land, but his neighbours argued that its erection had undermined the foundations of their garage.
A judge found in the neighbours' favour and ordered the man to pay damages and costs. He was also required to allow his neighbours' workmen onto his land for the purpose of erecting a retaining wall and to cover the £30,000 cost of those works.
The facts of the case emerged as the Court of Appeal refused to grant the man permission to challenge the judge's ruling.