Alternatives to party wall injunctions

If a building owner starts work without first serving the required notice under the Party Wall Act the adjoining owner can apply to the Court for an emergency injunction stopping the works. But party wall injunctions are not the only option. Where the building owner serves a notice and the adjoining owner does not agree to the works within 14 days then a "deemed" dispute arises (for example, under section 5 ...

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What factors should an adjoining owner’s surveyor consider when calculating their fee?

Guest post by Justin Burns BSc (Hons) MRICS FFPWS of Peter Barry Party Wall Surveyors In many ways it’s the perfect job; freedom to set you own hourly rate and keep a record of your own time. It’s no wonder that the fees charged by adjoining owners’ surveyors are such a contentious topic. To provide a flavour of the type of dilemma faced by party wall surveyors on a daily ...

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Debt claims in Magistrates Court v County Court

June 25, 2013  |   Magistrates' Court, Party Wall Blog   |    

Party Wall Awards often provide for sums of money to be paid by one owner to another; for example, as compensation for damage caused, or in respect of professional fees. If the debtor does not pay then the creditor may need to issue proceedings to recover the debt. Under section 17 of the Party Wall Act any sums due in pursuance of that act (e.g. under an award, or an account) are recoverable ...

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Party Walls & the “De Minimis” rule

Many of the rights under the Party Wall Act are very wide-ranging, and have the potential to catch many building owners unaware. For example, the right under section 2(2)(a) to "thicken" a party wall might well include plastering the wall becuase it increases the width of the wall, or the right under section 2(2)(f) to "...cut into a party structure for any purpose..." might well include cutting in chasings, or even drilling into the ...

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Party wall appeals – Review or rehearing?

Statutory appeals, such as an appeal under section 10(17) the Party Wall Act , can take one of two forms; an appeal by way of rehearing, or an appeal by way of review. The difference between the two is helpfully summarised in the judgement of May LJ in El Du Pont De Nemours & Company v St Dupont [2003] EWCA Civ 1368. In essence, in ...

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How to calculate compensation for breaching the party wall act

Where the building owner infringes an adjoining owner's property rights, for example by enclosing upon their wall, the surveyors may be called upon to value those infringements in an award of damages, or compensation. But how should surveyors approach this task? The Court of Appeal have helpfully given guidance on this issue in a couple of recent cases. The first case is Seeff v Ho [2011] EWCA Civ 186 in ...

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Party wall notices and joint owners

Tricky situations can arise where there is more than one owner of land or buildings that are subject to the Party Wall Act, as it may not be possible to locate all of the owners. Can a notice be served if only one of the building owners is available? What happens if all of the adjoining owners have been identified, but one of the joint owners cannot be traced? Adjoining owners

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Who is an adjoining owner?

Before the building owner starts work he must serve one or more notices on the “adjoining owner”. But who are they? The neighbours, right? Well yes, but it is not necessarily that simple “Adjoining owner” is defined in section 20 of the 1996 Act as “any owner … of buildings, storeys, or room adjoining those of the building owner”. So far, so good. But what is meant by “owner”?[pullquote_right]If an adjoining ...

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Party Wall Injunctions & Costs – Nelson’s Yard Management Co v Eziefula

The Court of Appeal recently gave judgment in Nelson's Yard Management Co v Eziefula [2013] EWCA Civ 235, a case concerning whether the defendant should bear the costs of an aborted application for an injunction for breach of the Party Wall etc. Act 1996. Background Nelson's Yard Management Company ("Nelson's") is the freehold owner of 1 – 10 Nelson's Yard, Camden. The Defendant, Mr ...

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Boundary disputes 3 – Adverse possession

April 02, 2013  |   Boundary Disputes, Party Wall Blog   |    

In my last posts here and here I looked at how to establish who is the "paper owner" of the land subject to a boundary dispute; that is, the person that owns the land according to the deeds. But this is only half the story. Even if it can be shown that one person is the paper owner, their neighbour may still have acquired ownership of the land through "adverse ...

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Boundary disputes 2 – The surveyor’s report

In my last post I explained that the starting point in any boundary dispute is to find and analyse the first conveyance. In this post I will cover the next stage, which is to commission a boundary surveyor’s report. The Court of Appeal set out what the surveyor should be asked to do in the case of Childs v Vernon [2007] EWCA Civ 305:- “On the issue of the ...

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Boundary disputes 1 – Find the first conveyance

Following on from my earlier post, this is the first in a series that will set out the approach that the Courts and Land Registry Adjudicator will adopt when resolving boundary disputes. Although often the first thing the parties look at is the Land Registry and Ordinance Survey plans, they are simply not relevant in boundary disputes. Lord Hoffman set out exactly needs to be done at the beginning of ...

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Today is the Roman festival of “Terminalia”…..

February 23, 2013  |   Boundary Disputes, Party Wall Blog   |    

….. which celebrates the Roman god Terminus, who was tasked with the protection of boundary markers. Where Roman estates adjoined they were marked with a boundary stones which usually included a statute of Terminus (pictured) Each year on 23 February, Roman land owners would celebrate with neighbouring families garlanding their respective sides of the marker and making offerings of crops, honeycomb and wine, which would “renew” the boundaries. [pullquote_right]...Land Registry and Ordinance Survey plans are “worse than ...

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Basement excavations & damages for loss of value

November 29, 2012  |   Basements, Party Wall Blog, Party Wall Moot   |    

Basement excavations are becoming increasingly popular in London and the South-East, and I am often asked to advise on the impact the works may have on the value of adjoining premises. This issue arises particularly where the basement is to be constructed in such a way that it might prevent future development of neighbouring properties. [pullquote_right]... loss of value to a property caused by a neighbouring basement excavation could be recoverable ... [/pullquote_right]

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Party walls and “raising downwards”

September 27, 2012  |   Basements, Party Wall Blog   |    

This post started life as part of a discussion on LinkedIn, but I thought the subject deserved more lengthy treatment. An unfortunately common idea, particularly in relation to basement excavations, is that a building owner can "raise a party wall downwards”. It is often used to avoid the absolute restriction on special foundations without the adjoining owners consent in section 7(4) of the Party Wall Act. [pullquote_right]...the ...

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Can surveyors enforce a party wall award?

July 23, 2012  |   Party Wall Blog, Party Wall Moot   |    

Where one of the owners has failed or refused to comply with the terms of an award, most commonly in respect of payment of their fees, many surveyors attempt to enforce the award in Court themselves. However, this approach is questionable. In July 2010 I organised a mock appeal on this point which was based on hypothetical facts. The "Appeal" was heard by Mr Justice Akenhead, the judge in charge of the ...

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Date of service of party wall award – Freetown Ltd v Assethold Ltd

In Freetown Limited v Assethold Limited [2012] EWCA Civ 1657 a party wall appeal under section 10(17) of the Party Wall etc. Act 1996, the Court of Appeal has given some much needed guidance on the service provisions of section 15 of the Party Wall etc. Act 1996. Freetown is the freehold owner of 12 Westport Street, London. Assethold had a long lease of the adjoining property, 4 ...

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Harrassment of adjoining owners and damages for trespass – Jones & Lovegrove v Ruth & Ruth

In July 2011 the Court of Appeal handed down its judgment in Jones & Lovegrove v Ruth & Ruth [2011] EWCA Civ 804. The case is interesting because it confirms that an errant building owner can be liable in substantial damages for harassment of their adjoining owner, and also provides some guidance on the principles to be applies when assessing damages for trespass to a party wall. The Claimants, mesdames Jones ...

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Party walls & nuisance – Hirose Electrical v Peak Ingredients

In August 2011 the Court of Appeal decided the case of Hirose Electrical UK Limited v Peak Ingredients Limited [2011] EWCA Civ 987, and considered whether disrepair to a party wall could constitute a nuisance. The facts   Units 20 and 22 on the Crownhill Industrial Estate, Milton Keynes, were occupied by Peak Ingredients and Hirose Electrical respectively. They were separated by a party wall constructed in breeze block. That party ...

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Consent, damages & trespass to a party wall – Seeff v Ho

The Court of Appeal recently considered in Seeff v Ho [2011] EWCA Civ 186 the nature of an alleged oral waiver of the obligations under the Party Wall etc. Act 1996, and the basis on which damages for trespass in breach of the 1996 Act are to be assessed. The facts   In 2006 Mr and Mrs Ho decided to build an extension and undertake other improvements to their house at ...

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