Most neighbour disputes are about boundaries, rights of way, trespass and restrictive covenants. They all start the same way with the “claimant” filing a Claim Form at court. This summarises what he/she wants in a couple of sentences and a solicitor usually does this on their behalf. The claim is explained fully in “Particulars of Claim” which a specialist property barrister writes, with the information and documents you provide. The “defendant” then “acknowledges service” of the documents they are sent. They can admit the claim or, if they deny it, responded with a “Defence” which puts their case in detail.
Following this, perhaps a couple of months after the Claim Form is filed, there is a Case Management Conference at court where the judge decides what things each side needs to do and when to prepare the dispute for trial. You brief your barrister to represent you at that Conference. The Judge decides the various steps, exchanging relevant documents and witness statements, arranging expert evidence, and sets dates for each one. Typically those steps could take 6 months.
Then the case will be given a trial date, which depends on when a judge and a courtroom are available, and when the parties and their barristers and witnesses are all available. From start to trial usually takes not less than a year.
Urgent neighbour disputes.
If there is urgency, for example because the neighbour has blocked the vent of your boiler or has locked a gate so that you can’t get your car in or out, you can apply for an “interim” or temporary order. This is an injunction to keep things as they were before until trial. You can apply for this, with a witness statement, when you file the Claim Form. There will then be a court hearing within days, or even within a day if there is danger to life or property.
Our experienced property barristers are able to tackle the most challenging cases. To instruct one of our legal team, first read our simple step-by-step guide, then get in touch with the clerks in our central Brighton office who will be able to advise you on who can best help you with your dispute.