November 2007

Tree (Disputes between Neighbours) Act 2006 - courts consider risk of future damage

From the commencement of this Act, there has been early growth in the number of cases lodged ? 100 since February 2007 ? but few trees have bitten the dust! A recent case showed that the court is not afraid to pronounce it does not have jurisdiction unless the main roots are apparent: real damage to property or injury to person.

Whilst sympathetic to neighbours who suffer from leaf drop, the court will not interfere unless there is actual damage by the tree or likely to be damage in the near future.

The near future has been taken to mean about one year ? so even where trees were planted so close to the boundary that damage might be expected to occur in about 5 years ? no jurisdiction was found and so no conditions could be imposed on the owner of the tree in the meantime.

The court has noted in these cases, should damage later occur, the rights of the neighbour to approach the court again are restored. These cases are not making for happy relationships between neighbours.

Author: Mary-Lynne Taylor