Example 3: Boundary Dispute

Below is an uncompleted yet highly detailed draft of counsel instructions written by me whilst assisting in a civil litigation department. I had sadly been given little guidance when working on the matter, however as you will see from the reading, there was more than met the eye, and so the project itself raised far more questions that had at first been considered, all of which made my personal approach highly effective when looking to save time both inside and outside of the courts.

This was a matter between private residents that had become a protracted and largely unresolved issue prior to my involvement. As you will see from my work the heart of the matter was quickly given proper address and much of what was needed could have been attained without any need for a hearing.

I am unaware as to how the matter was resolved, but my brief contribution no doubt assisted those representing the client and hopefully the barrister advocating the matter before the appointed judge. My time was given in small chunks due to other duties, however I would estimate that the work here would have totalled no more than 3-4 hours, once again far shorter than one might expect when consulting a qualified English solicitor acting within the field of civil litigation.

Counsel is instructed in a planned proceedings between a Mr X and Mr Y in relation to a boundary dispute of land situated in the northern side of ____.

Since the land belonging to Mr X was purchased in ____ he has been of the understanding that the conveyancing plans filed and registered upon first registration were in fact the correct representation of the boundary lines associated with the title and has continued to use the land as was his assumed right until ____ whereupon it was argued that his neighbour Mr Y, who had acquired title to a small parcel of adjoining land in ____ did in fact own the area use by Mr X when widening his driveway entrance in ____, and that Mr Y’s conveyancing plans were representative of the conflict.  

This differing of opinion led Mr X to serve notice in ____ that the Land Registry rectify the existing plans to show their original dimensions, and that the plans held by Mr Y are misrepresentative and inaccurate; a notice that was subsequently objected to by Mr Y.

A Triangulated History

There appears to be historic reliance upon verbal agreements between the original estate owner Mr G and Mr Y that prior to the sale of land to Mr Y permission had been granted to Mr X by Mr G in terms of use of the driveway area, regardless of any future register of title to the adjoining plot.

This fact has never been held in contention by Mr Y which translates that the agreement had allowed Mr X continuous and uninterrupted use of the land in question for a period of almost twenty-six years, while it must also be considered that with reference to the equitable principles surrounding the Land Registry Act 2002 (more specifically the insurance principle) it is understood that any flaws found to be contained with the register provides payable compensation to those parties affected.

It is reasonable to believe that on this occasion there are discrepancies around the exact size of the plot contested, and that despite acting in good faith, Mr X has been a victim of a clerical error that has transcended into a boundary dispute in need of a clear resolution.

There has also been an instance where a newly erected fence on what Mr X perceives as his own land has been removed by Mr Y without reason or apology for causing damage to property not belonging to him. Whether this is of a criminal nature or an act of reckless intent adds only more fuel to the fire and has not shown itself as conducive to a positive outcome in an escalating civil dispute.

In ____ Mr X again requested that the title plans for Mr Y’s land be adjusted to remove the portion of land claimed to be under ownership by Mr X which was objected to by Mr Y in ____. In ____ Mr Y commissioned an independent survey of his land and it was claimed that the majority of the entranceway used by Mr X fell within the boundary lines of Mr Y’s land.

Additional issues arising from the primary dispute

Numerous questions are raised around the origins of this dispute, particularly the oversight of the Land Registry when deciding to go ahead and register the conveyance plans submitted by the appointed surveyors. One would question whether this miscalculation falls upon the surveyors as opposed to Mr X, while also asking if this error would be tantamount to a contractual breach?

Although with consideration of the letter from the district land registry, there does seem to be a tone of burdening the original claimant Mr X with the clerical error, or even ‘passing the buck’ by suggesting that he ought not to have trusted the plans provided him in good faith by a firm paid and experienced in matters of land ownership and title transfer, and of their importance to a purchaser regardless of first or subsequent registrations of title.

One would also question whether sch.4 of the Land Registry Act 2002 has been properly considered, and if so, what level of compensation might be payable to Mr X where agreement can be found regards sufferance resulting from an ill-defined plan that perhaps never warranted submission or acceptance by the Land Registry to begin with. 

I would ask if there has been any attempt to seek clarification from the original land owner Mr G regards his verbal agreements between himself and Mr X and Y accordingly, as this would help shed further light upon what was agreed in terms of possible easement rights by either prescription or implication where and if Mr G can be persuaded to confirm his position in writing.

Another question surrounds surveys as a prerequisite to first registration of land, as there are already evident errors and confusion around first registration of the land under discussion, as noted in the District Land Registry letter, and one might need to ask if such surveys are legally required?

Alteration of the land register upon grounds of mistake can rely upon Chowood Ltd v Lyall (2) and Baxter v Mannion, which both address unlawful registration of proprietary interest, while it is also worth noting that the mistake need not be made by the Land Registry to find effect. Furthermore, rectification or alteration of the title that causes loss under sch. 8 of the Land Registry Act 2002 results in indemnity payment as previously mentioned.

As you will see from this example, I possess both the skills and legal insight to research and thereby alleviate any legal issue in need of redress, while I have full access to an international legal and case law database and an enviable collection of legal texts covering numerous jurisdictions.