This is a guest post by our colleagues at Darlington Solicitors.
As solicitors, we know that it’s hard enough for any business or individual to keep up with legal developments, but it’s also important to recognise the legal principle that ignorance of the law is no defence.
The fact is that in statutory areas like the Party Wall etc. Act 1996, as with many property law related matters, procedures and time limits are important. Failure to comply with procedures, as outlined elsewhere on this blog, can prove to be extremely costly. So, remember to take advice about procedures to avoid falling foul of the law on a technicality.
Aside from procedural ignorance or non-compliance, the big issue with party wall disputes or other forms of potential dispute is personality and psychology, these are important and often not in a positive way. Let’s face it; most of us, particularly in the UK, are very territorial about our homes.
Some people don’t think party wall procedures are either fair or necessary. We would disagree, but the bigger point is that, failing to comply with the process or being unnecessarily hostile, whether you are the party undertaking the work or otherwise, is only likely to worsen relationships and possibly lead to a big cost penalty down the line. This tends to be because once a dispute or disagreement involves lawyers, particularly where it becomes personal, positions can all too easily become entrenched.
At Darlingtons, we see clients regularly where, from the outset we strongly counsel them to focus on seeking some form of mediated approach or compromise and that disputes can easily escalate financially out of all proportion to the issue in dispute. Notwithstanding, we are very forthright about this, it’s regrettably a common occurrence that clients do not want to listen.
So, as solicitors, our message is simple. Seek advice at an early stage from expert surveyors like Peter Barry. You may not like the law, you may not agree with it, but you shouldn’t ignore it. Where there are areas for negotiation, be flexible. If you don’t do any of these things, you may end up coming to see us, and whilst we welcome new clients for any property law or litigation case, we take no pleasure in seeing neighbour disputes escalate, since in those circumstances, there really are no winners.