Property Owners’ Duty of Care

The Court of Appeal has held that property owners owed each other a duty of care in circumstances where a dividing (and supporting) garden wall collapsed onto land that abutted the wall, which was owned by one of them.

In 2010, the wall collapsed following a heavy snowfall. The spoil from the collapse cascaded onto adjoining properties where it has remained for 4 years, this being the time taken for the case to reach the Court of Appeal.

Removing the spoil would be tricky as it could cause more land to cascade onto the adjoining property, the subject of these proceedings.

The owners of the collapsing garden were not liable in nuisance since they had neither created any nuisance nor continued it when they knew, or ought to have known, that their property constituted a nuisance or hidden danger to the adjoining properties.

Property lawyers will find this judgment interesting as it is sets out the Court of Appeal’s reasoning in respect of the duties of care owed between adjoining landowners in respect of a hazard arising on their land without their fault. (Coope and others v Ward and another [2015] EWCA Civ 30.)

Written by James Naylor

Partner, CG Naylor LLP.