Donald Agnew and Amanda Morris
Wildy, Simmonds and Hill Publishing, 2011, £42
“To hear the words ‘a boundary dispute’ is to fill a judge, even one of the mot stalwart and amiable disposition, with a deep foreboding since disputes with neighbours tend always to compel... some unreasonable and extravagant display of unneighbourly behaviour which profits no one but the lawyers” (Ward LJ in Alan Wibberley Building v Insley  1 WLR 881 (CA)).
This paperback book of some 250 pages is reasonably priced and packs in some useful information on handling litigation between neighbours. It is written by two very experienced and knowledgeable property lawyers. It begins with an interesting section on the consequences of not telling a buyer about existing disputes with neighbours. All lawyers should tell the client who comes in with such a problem that: ‘You do not want a boundary dispute as you will have to tell the buyers and they will not want the property.’
The majority of the book is about ordinary boundary disputes but it also includes more arcane areas such as nuisance, what might be called natural problems such as plants and water course issues, and also rights of way. It covers just about anything that can come between adjoining property owners. Of course neighbours never cease dreaming up ways of falling out. Court should be the last resort. “There are too many calamitous neighbour disputes in the courts. Greater use should be made of the services of local mediators” (Mummery LJ in Andrew Bradford and Cheryl Bradford v Keith James and others  EWCA Civ 837).
The practical suggestions and extensive reference to the powers of the court regarding costs are clear and interesting. I found the checklists at the end of each chapter to be very useful. The advice on how to handle an expert is clear and helpful. The best solution to any dispute is of course to avoid it in the first place – good fences make good neighbours as the saying goes. My experience is to avoid cases like this like the plague as often the litigation is a symptom of a general antipathy between families rather than a genuine problem. As the judges know, no one really comes out of these cases well, and I suspect we lawyers get big bills of costs that are not always easy to collect payment on.
It is a thoroughly interesting and useful book, but does not encourage me to practise in this area of law at all.