A landmark ruling by the Court of Appeal has been made against Network Rail following their failings to adequately treat Japanese Knotweed on their land.
Announcing the decision, Master of the Rolls Sir Terence Etherton said:
"Japanese knotweed, and its roots and rhizomes, does not merely carry the risk of future physical damage to buildings, structures and installations on the land… it can fairly be described as a natural hazard which affects landowners' ability fully to use and enjoy their property,” and is a “classic example of an interference with the amenity value of the land.”
This means that landowners could now be held liable to their neighbours for the presence of the Knotweed, even if the Knotweed has not yet spread to the neighbour’s property. Following the ruling, a Network Rail spokesperson has stated that the organisation is considering the implications of the ruling.
Private Nuisance Claims
The claimants in the Network Rail case, Mr Williams and Mr Waistell, were successfully able to show that the presence of Japanese Knotweed within seven meters of their properties interfered with their ability to use and enjoy their land. This is legally defined as a private nuisance.
Whilst there was no actual physical damage to the properties concerned, Mr Williams and Mr Waistell were able to recover damages to reflect a loss in value.
If you know of - or suspect there to be - Japanese Knotweed on neighbouring land, early action is key. We will be happy to advise you in respect of a claim against a neighbouring landowner.
Claims against Surveyors
When you purchased your property, it is likely that you paid for a professional survey to be undertaken. Surveyors have a legal responsibility to check for the presence of Japanese Knotweed whilst conducting such surveys but this has been overlooked, or missed, on many occasions.
If your surveyor did not pick up the presence of Japanese Knotweed (and this is likely to include the presence of it on neighbouring land, if it can be successfully demonstrated that the presence of it is affecting the use and enjoyment of your land), it may be that you are able to bring a claim against the surveyor for professional negligence, this is if you are able to demonstrate that the presence and/or evidence of Japanese Knotweed should have been identified by the surveyor.
When a property is affected by Japanese knotweed, it can lose considerable value and your home may be worth less than you paid for it. This is called diminution of value and the basis on which you would be able to bring about a claim.
If, after having purchased your property, you discover an infestation of Japanese knotweed on your land, or within close proximity to your land, we may be able to help you bring about such a claim if this is something that your surveyor should have identified.
We Can Help
At MW Solicitors, our mission is "To make quality legal services accessible to everyone" including those who wish to pursue a Japanese Knotweed claim. Our Property Disputes Department are experienced Civil Litigators who provide pragmatic and cost effective solutions to end your dispute quickly.