As the saying goes, 'everyman's home is his castle,' so the implications of living in the confines of a relatively small island such as Jersey, means space is very important, so boundary disputes between neighbours can be hotly contested.
As a relative newcomer to the world of conveyancing (conveyancers deal with all the legal matters, paperwork and queries involved in a property transaction) I am amazed at the volume of boundary disputes that arise on a regular basis. There are a variety of reasons that can lead a property owner to fall out with a neighbour causing him or her to seek legal advice when all else fails, with the most common being parking, electricity supply, rights of way and Planning applications.
The history of land or a property is contained in title deeds but no matter how old or detailed these are, when property changes hands there is still the potential for a dispute. This is why a conveyancer, with all his or her training and experience is involved in property transactions, especially when it comes to resolving issues over boundaries – even in the age of digital mapping. Digital technology only identifies a property's location and does not constitute a legal definition of the boundaries or contractual rights.
In the UK surveyors can become involved in boundary disputes but in Jersey it is conveyancing lawyers who provide the expertise in settling such disputes. However, when they are not able to broker a resolution then litigators are brought in and there is plenty of case law in the Royal Court of Jersey on this subject. This is unfortunate, as boundary disputes can be costly and bitter in situations when neighbours are unable to reach an amicable resolution.
When anyone has to change property deeds or alter or confirm a boundary, they are required to pass a contract before the Royal Court and neighbours may be required to be party to or to confirm their agreement to the changes.
That is why it is important to check your legal rights and discuss your plans with neighbours if you want to avoid falling out or finding yourself in an unnecessary and stressful dispute. There may be more to a situation than at first meets the eye and remember fact is readily perplexed with belief, clauses are written in perpetuity and the answer to your quarrels can almost certainly be found to be in your contract or title deed.
The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.