Charles Irvine successful in high-profile neighbours' boundary dispute

21st February 2023

3PB Barristers’ (3 Paper Buildings) specialist commercial and property barrister Charles IrvineCharles IrvineCall: 2010 (pictured here), has successfully appeared for the Respondents in a recent High Court case before Sir Anthony Mann involving a property dispute between neighbours arising from the interpretation of a transfer, interference with a right of way and the concept of “ancillary” use.

Charles’ clients Mr and Mrs Wakerly own a property in Suffolk which includes their house and a long drive which itself divides the land owned by their neighbours. Charles represented his clients on appeal at the High Court after their neighbours, Mr and Mrs Hambling, brought claims that the installation of a fence by Mr and Mrs Wakerly along the drive blocked access to their property and reduced the value of their home.

At first instance, Charles successfully defended Mr and Mrs Wakerly in a claim for interference with the transfer, interference with the right to light and proprietary estoppel.  The other side’s case was initially dismissed by Judge Karen Walden-Smith at Norwich County Court on all three heads of claim. The appeal was concerned with the sole issue of the interpretation of the transfer and the right of way.  At appeal, Charles reiterated the argument that the right of access dating back to 2001 (which allowed the Hamblings to cross the Wakerly’s driveway to and from their owned land opposite their home) clearly stated that the track was for access to the field, not to Garden Cottage where the Hamblings live.

The case has been widely covered in the media, including The MetroThe Daily MailThe Mirror and The Times.

In the judgment, the Sir Anthony Mann dismissed the appeal, reminding of the need for parties in interpreting express grants of a right of way to avoid “doing considerable violence to the apparent clear wording” of a grant of a right of way.  Turning to the concept of use that is “ancillary” (applying National Trust for Places of Historic Interest or Natural Beauty v White [1987] 1 WLR 907), the principle does not apply where such use is contrary to the express and plain wording of the grant.

Charles Irvine is regularly instructed in High Court and County Court cases on a range of property, commercial and insolvency matters. To contact or instruct Charles, please contact David Fielder at [email protected] or call 020 7583 8055.