The issue first arose in 2006 when the homeowner noticed cracks in his property. Structural engineers investigated and reported that the damage was most likely caused by the roots from a cypress tree hedge on the neighbour’s land.
The neighbour agreed to remove the trees but the homeowner also sought damages to cover the cost of repair work, plus compensation for distress and inconvenience.
The neighbour accepted that the damage had been partly caused by the hedge but argued that such problems were not reasonably foreseeable. She also said the homeowner had been negligent in failing to alert her to the risks.
The court held that a reasonably prudent landowner with trees on her land ought to have been aware of the risk that they might cause subsidence and damage to nearby properties.
The neighbour’s failure to recognise and eliminate that risk meant she was liable to pay compensation. However, the homeowner was also partly at fault for failing to alert the neighbour to the potential risk to his property.
It was therefore appropriate to reduce his damages figure by 15%, meaning he would receive £1,200 in total.