Neighbours in dispute quickly learn that the location of boundaries - and particularly the ownership of boundary features - can be difficult to determine.

In relation to hedges, there is a legal presumption which may assist. The “hedge and ditch” presumption provides that the boundary line sits at the far side of the ditch and not at the edge or along the centre line of the hedge. The presumption can be rebutted (e.g. if the hedge predates the ditch) but it can nevertheless help to resolve many disputes. Parties should be aware that the presumption will not be reflected in Land Registry title plans, which are based on Ordnance Survey maps. They show the centre line of the hedge as the boundary line but they are not definitive evidence of the location of the boundary.

If there is no ditch, ‘T’ marks which appear on the conveyance/transfer plan can help to determine the location of the boundary line and ownership of the hedge. By convention, ‘T’ marks are used to show who owns - rather than who is responsible for maintenance of - the boundary feature, be that a hedge or wall. The stem of the ‘T’ will generally point towards the land of the person on whose land the feature stands. It may still be necessary to establish whether the current boundary feature existed at the date of the conveyance/transfer in order to confirm ownership of what now sits along the boundary.

In Seeckts v Derwent [2004] All ER(D) 554, the Court of Appeal held that ‘T’ marks on a plan were an indication of ownership of the boundary hedge. Furthermore, it decided that the ‘T’ marks took precedence over dimensions shown on the plan when determining ownership of the boundary hedge. Accordingly, although plans were prepared from Ordnance Survey plans and showed fields and other plots of land denoted with a number and acreage calculation, the existence of ‘T’ marks would be more significant as regards ownership of a hedge.

More recently, in Avon Estates v Evans [2013] All ER(D) 207, the High Court has held that ‘T’ marks do not always have this meaning. If a conveyance or transfer does not explain the meaning of the ‘T’ marks, it would be wrong to assume in all cases that they were intended to confirm evidence of ownership of the boundary feature. The parties’ intentions in including ‘T’ marks should be apparent from the wording in the conveyance/transfer.

These cases demonstrate the need to consider the particular facts of each dispute and, in particular, to examine closely both the wording of the conveyance/transfer and evidence of the historic condition of the land.