Nathalie Le Cuirot December 8 2022 Hedging your bets: Jersey's High Hedges Law Ogier | Private Client & Offshore Services - Jersey Nathalie Le Cuirot Private Client & Offshore Services IntroductionWhat constitutes a high hedge?What is the nuisance?What will the minister take into consideration?What is the remedy?CommentIntroductionEven in the most tightknit of communities, living alongside others is not always easy. When someone's behaviour or property has a negative impact on someone else's quality of life, disputes may emerge.When thinking of "terrible neighbours", noise complaints or boundary disputes usually come to mind. But there is another problem that can be overlooked: the nuisance of high hedges.Hedges are an important part of the environment and are planted for a variety of reasons; they can encourage wildlife, form an attractive boundary around a property and provide shelter from wind.Growing the wrong type of hedge over a certain height in a residential neighbourhood can, however, cause real suffering, including the loss of sunlight to neighbouring properties.The High Hedges (Jersey) Law 2008 assists residential neighbours to resolve disputes relating to high hedges where they have failed to reach an agreement between themselves. The law does not make it a criminal offence to grow a high hedge, although failure to comply with an order made under the law can be a criminal offence.The owner or occupier of a residential property can refer a complaint about a high hedge growing on a neighbouring property to the minister for planning and environment (accompanied by a £350 fee). The minister may reject a complaint if the neighbours have not taken all reasonable steps to resolve the issue between them.What constitutes a high hedge?The hedge must be formed wholly or predominantly of a line of two or more evergreens and be more than two metres above ground level. "Evergreen" under the law means an evergreen tree or shrub or a semi-evergreen tree or shrub.What is the nuisance?The hedge must constitute a barrier to light. It will not constitute a barrier to light if there are significant gaps at heights of more than two metres above ground level.What will the minister take into consideration?The minister will consider:communication to resolve the complaint;whether the hedge existed at the time when the complainant acquired an interest in the property, and if so the height of the hedge;whether the hedge adds to the privacy and enjoyment of neighbouring land or contributes to the amenity of the neighbourhood;whether the hedge could be reduced, while keeping reasonable protection to the interests of neighbouring land; andany legal obligations relating to the hedge.What is the remedy?If the minister decides that the complaint is justified, they will issue a remedial notice specifying:what must be done to the hedge;any conditions subject to which it must be done (for example, should the hedge owner wait until after nesting season);the time within which it must be done;anything that must be done; andany conditions to which it is subject, after that period to prevent a recurrence of the adverse effect.A remedial notice must not require a hedge to be removed or reduced to a height of less than two metres above ground level.Comment The law has its limitations and there are situations that an occupier might find intolerable for which the law provides no remedy. Where a high hedge causes real loss of enjoyment, the law provides a comparatively cost-effective remedy when all other avenues to reach an agreement with a neighbour have been exhausted.For further information on this topic please contact Nathalie Le Cuirot at Ogier by telephone (+441481 721 672) or email ([email protected]). The Ogier website can be accessed at www.ogier.com.