Sir Neil Thorne v Liberty Ilford Holdings Ltd and Ringo Ilford Ltd (2023) in the Central County Court at London K00CL542
Dr Antino was Sir Neil Thornes' Party Wall Surveyor, Given the continued trespass and damage, Dr Antino recommended Sir Neil to take legal advice to protect his property. Another successful application for an Injunction against developer for trespass which could so easily have been avoided.
Sir Neil Thorne was the adjoining owner adjacent to a development site for a multi-storey apartment block in the centre of Ilford. There was a history of trespass with the first commencing in 2019 and into 2023 when the developers erected scaffolding on Sir Neil’s land with a view to demolishing their existing structure. An application for an injunction against the developers for continued and ongoing trespass on to Sir Neil’s land became necessary to stop this unlawful practice.
The developers apologised (as they do) although quite clearly they knew that they should not have trespassed, matters went quiet for some due to Covid. Party wall notices under s.6(1) were served and an Award was in place. Dr Antino was appointed by Sir Neil.
Shortly after the commencement of the foundations it become quite clear to the developer that they would not be able to build their development without having access to Sir Neil’s property. This was in relation to the ground floor construction wall being a face brickwork cavity wall around a cast in situ concrete frame. Above the first-floor brickwork it was intended to fit composite panels to the exterior of the building.
The new building itself was located away from the boundary. Notwithstanding the building owners surveyor served a s.1(5) notice. This was rejected by Dr Antino of www.apaproperty.com (for obvious reasons) the proposed wall and cladding was not on the line of junction which is an expressed requirement to trigger s.1(5) and thereafter rights of access.
Undeterred the developers thought that they could just press ahead without negotiating a scaffold licence. The property is part of Sir Neil’s investment portfolio and therefore he does not reside there. The tenants did not bring this to the attention of Sir Neil or his property managers, that the developers had again trespassed on to his land to build the ground floor face brickwork wall.
There was a justified concern that the positioning and fixing of the composite panel cladding to the exterior of the multi storey building could not be undertaken without access onto Sir Neil’s land.
Undeterred the developers simply again refused to engage in any productive negotiations to reach an agreement for a scaffold licence which Sir Neil was not minded to reject (subject to obviously the appropriate licence being agreed).
To try and avoid this, the contractors came up with a rather unique way of lowering the panels from the roof down the outside of the building and then fixing them to the building. Quite how they expected to do that without trespassing into Sir Neil’s airspace was unknown and nonetheless clearly justification for an application for an injunction.
The matter was heard on the 16th February 2023 in the Royal Courts of Justice. The developers had out rightly refused to accept that the lowering of the panels went into Sir Neil’s airspace or that their contractors leaning out to pull the panels in and then to fix the panels etc. was also a trespass.
There were numerous photographs and video recordings showing the lowering of these panels and the positioning/fixing thereof creating a trespass. At Court after careful submissions by Counsel from Lamb Chambers www.lambchambers.co.uk for Sir Neil assisted by Mr Ashley Bean of Thirsk Winton www.thirskwinton.co.uk
Notwithstanding the fact that on the morning of the application the developers contractors were photographed stepping onto Sir Neil’s land which was immediately sent to the Court. The Judge confirmed that it was obvious that there was a need for access even if it was only for a few inches.The Judge confirmed that he was minded to grant the injunction. The Judge invited the parties to step outside to see if they could reach an agreement.
The developers having now been told that the injunction would be granted, focussed their attention on reaching an agreement with a scaffold licence being granted by Sir Neil for the appropriate period and Sir Neil’s costs being paid.
The moral of the story, remains the same, trespassing onto someone’s land will rightly incur an injunction or some form of financial penalty as compensation for the trespass. It seems a fool’s errand to become engaged in drawn out litigation which only further exposes the trespassing party to greater costs when they should be focussing their attention on being pragmatic and sensible in reaching an agreement so that they can move on with their project.
Sir Neil was extremely grateful for Dr Antino’s professional help and assistance in this matter also at www.antinoandassociates.com.