An argument over a narrow strip of land has left a mother and son facing massive costs after their case was heard in the Court of Appeal recently.

The dispute arose because their neighbour wanted to put up a fence on what he considered to be the dividing line between the two properties. The claimants had some years earlier added a porch extension to their house and, were the fence to be built, they would no longer have room to open the car doors when they parked beside their house.

As is normally the way in such cases, the parties disagreed as to which ‘line’ on the plan was the correct boundary. The neighbour wishing to build a fence had a plan with a ‘green line’, whereas on the other neighbours’ plan the boundary followed a ‘red line’. This meant that there was a small ‘triangle’ of land, the ownership of which was disputed.

In court, the judge found that the green line was the correct boundary. The neighbours wishing to prevent the construction of the fence appealed against the decision. The Court of Appeal held that the ‘red line’ described the correct boundary. However, because the triangle of land had been used by the neighbour without opposition for many years, he had the right to it due to adverse possession (‘squatter’s rights’). The appeal was therefore dismissed.