Despite the risk and cost, parties in boundary disputes often take their disagreements to court after having become entrenched in their positions. Relatively small boundary disputes can end up costing tens of thousands of pounds in legal fees. In an effort to encourage parties to try and resolve boundary disputes outside of Court, there have been a number of cases in recent years where the Court then refused to order the losing party to pay the winning party’s costs.
The House of Lords is therefore considering a statutory scheme whereby a surveyor would determine the matter rather than the Courts. Where agreement cannot be reached on the identity of that surveyor, each party would then appoint their own surveyor, and the two surveyors would then appoint an independent third surveyor, with a determination then being made by two or three of those surveyors. If either of the parties wish to appeal the determination of the surveyor(s), they would do so to the High Court.
While there are bound to be some challenges and objections to the scheme proposed in the Bill, a quicker, cheaper and more efficient way of resolving boundary disputes can only be of benefit to all parties. However the Bill is currently in the initial stages and will not be finalised for some time. In the meantime, when faced with a boundary dispute, parties will be best served by trying to resolve the matter by mutual agreement, at the earliest stage possible.