Japanese Knotweed Victim Wins Compensation in Landmark Nuisance Case

2nd May 2023 By

Landowners should sit up and take notice of the Court of Appeal’s ground-breaking decision to award thousands of pounds in compensation to a property investor, the value of whose land was blighted by notoriously invasive Japanese knotweed.

The case concerned an investment property that adjoined local authority-owned land on which the pernicious weed had apparently been growing for over 50 years. Its owner sought damages from the council on the basis that the plant’s relentless encroachment onto his land amounted to a nuisance.

Following two hearings, the owner succeeded in establishing that he had suffered a nuisance for a period of five years prior to the council taking steps to eradicate the weed from its land. However, he was refused compensation in respect of the blight on the value of his land arising from the infestation. His loss in that regard was found to be purely economic and thus irrecoverable.

Upholding his appeal against that outcome, the Court noted that the case raised an important point of principle. It found that, in nuisance cases, there is no legal bar on the recovery of damages to reflect pure economic loss. The owner’s loss arising from the diminution in the value of his land was not, in any event, purely economic because of the physical manner in which it had been caused.

Japanese knotweed’s evil reputation is such that the residual blight on the value of his property continued even after it was eradicated. The nuisance arose because of the plant’s physical encroachment onto his property, interfering with his amenity and quiet enjoyment of his land. The blight was a consequence of that nuisance and he was thus entitled to be compensated in respect of the damage to his economic interests.

The council argued that the encroachment was historical and that any diminution in the value of the owner’s land arose long before any nuisance was established. The Court, however, found that the council’s delay in treating the infestation gave rise to a continuing loss for the owner. Until the council treated the Japanese knotweed on its land, any attempt by the owner to eradicate it from his own property would have been futile. In awarding him £4,900 in damages, the Court found that that was a reasonable sum to reflect the diminution in his property’s value.

Source: Concious

Latest News

Challenge to Will's Validity Rejected by High Court

12th April, 2024 By

The best way to ensure your assets will be distributed as you wish is to have your will professionally drafted by a qualified solicitor. In a recent case, a challenge to the validity of an elderly man's will was dismissed by the High Court. The man had previously made a will in 2011, leaving most of his estate equally to his three children. In 2018, by which time one of his sons had predeceased him, he made a further will, leaving the residue of his estate to his other son...

Defiance of Family Court Orders Will Always End Badly

10th April, 2024 By

Custodial sentences very rarely come into play in the family courts. Where there have been repeated breaches of court orders, however, judges may have little choice but to clamp down. This was illustrated in the High Court during committal proceedings that stemmed from a child custody dispute. The background to the case involved contested proceedings between the father and mother of a young child. These concluded with a court order establishing that the child – a daughter – would live with the mother. Three months later the daughter travelled with...

Claim for SDLT Relief on Annex Unsuccessful

8th April, 2024 By

When buying a property consisting of more than one residence, it may be possible to claim multiple dwellings relief (MDR) against Stamp Duty Land Tax (SDLT). However, there are certain conditions that must be met for an MDR claim to succeed, as a recent case illustrates. A property was purchased for £1.8 million. Prior to the purchase, the buyer had agreed with the seller that he would be allowed to carry out works to construct a self-contained annex at the property. The buyer's SDLT return included a claim for MDR...

Divorce – Alleged Bigamy Raised in Financial Remedies Dispute

5th April, 2024 By

The issue of bigamy and its potential impact on a person's ability to seek financial remedies in a divorce came under the legal spotlight recently. A husband made an application to strike out his wife's financial remedies claim on the basis that she had committed bigamy and deceived him into a marriage when she knew she was not free to marry. This deceit, he claimed, was so egregious that, as a matter of public policy, she should be debarred from pursuing any claim for financial remedies against him. The husband based...