Neighbour dispute leads to divorce and financial disaster
A neighbour dispute over relatively trivial matters has led to financial disaster for one side and divorce for the other.
The judge described it as a “sad and regrettable dispute” and urged the warring parties to make peace.
The case involved a teacher and a photographer who made a series of complaints about each other’s behaviour. These complaints involved matters such as too much noise from late-night parties and washing being blown into a garden.
The dispute went on for 18 months and led to court action. The photographer won the case but the stress took its toll on his relationship with his wife and they are now getting divorced. Meanwhile, the teacher may have to sell his home to cover court costs.
The judge was critical of both sides and lamented the damage the dispute had caused. He said: “The actual allegations complained of are not of great gravity — noise nuisance and clothes blowing off a washing line and annoying a neighbour.
“You two gentlemen are neighbours. I’m not going to say you should have to be friends; that would be a childish thing to say.
“But if you could step back and cool down, and avoid coming to court again, that would be desirable, otherwise more money will be wasted.”
The judge’s advice could also apply to many other people who find themselves in dispute with neighbours. It is all too easy for matters to get out of hand if people don’t remain calm and maintain a sense of perspective.
It is usually better for disputes to be settled amicably but if this is not possible then both sides should seek legal advice before attitudes begin to harden.
Clarification of the legal position may help resolve the problem right at the outset. If there is still a disagreement then a solicitor may be able to arrange mediation so that a settlement can be reached that is fair to both sides.
This approach is usually far less stressful than going to court and it may help you to maintain a good working relationship with your neighbour. This is very important as you may have to live alongside each other for many years to come.
If agreement still can’t be reached then litigation may become necessary. It is then even more important to get sound legal advice so that the dispute doesn’t escalate to a point where the costs involved are out of proportion to the value of the claim.