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  • Writer's pictureEd Johnson

Good fences make good neighbours?

I’ve talked previously about property mediation and how it can save parties thousands of pounds and this week I came across a case from the village where I grew up which is crying out for mediation.

In a village in rural Lincolnshire two housing developers bought land off a local family.

At the end of the construction process the council took over the care and maintenance of the green areas between the two developments.

Some years later Ash die back disease had affected one of the trees on the green area and the council took steps to have it felled and removed.

At this point the family who had sold the property contacted the council and told them the strip of land between the two developments, spanning the length of the middle of the green area, still belonged to the family and that they had no right to remove their trees.

Upon consulting the building and contract records the council acknowledged that the strip of land did indeed belong to the family, so they issued a charge to the family for the years of grounds maintenance.

At a subsequent council meeting the family pointed out that they were owed damages for the tree felled and that actually by trespassing across the strip of land the council had saved time for the maintenance of the rest of the green.

The family have since begun erecting fences to delineate their land interrupting what was a perfectly lovely patch of green in a suburban development.

This case has all the potential of spiralling out of control when an early mediated settlement could deal with all the issues of land boundary changes, damages, trespass, mesne profits for rent and inconvenience, as well as discussing the “greater good” to the village of a large green area being kept intact.

Such an intervention would save time money and costs, something which has been recognised in Ireland for many years.

Not surprising then that the Mediation Act 2017 comes into force next month to encourage (though not force) parties to engage in mediation before getting involved in court proceedings. The element of compulsion comes from the Act permitting courts to have regard to any party’s refusal to engage in mediation when awarding costs.

Fail to mediate at your peril, is the underlying message from the Irish legislature, and as we have seen in previous blogs is increasingly the approach of the courts this side of the Irish Sea.

Whether it’s a neighbour dispute, a family fall out or a commercial argument and you need an experience, accredited and approachable mediator then contact me at Northwest Mediation on 07931318347 or via email at

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