An argument over a small strip of land began when Mr and Mrs Timmins moved to a property which came with its own parking space. The parking space was over 13ft wide, and encroached onto a small area in front of a gateway to a neighbouring property.
They received a visit from Mr Soden, the owner of the neighbouring property, with a complaint that they sometimes parked their car too far to the right of their space and blocked his right of way to the gate.
Sometime later, the tenants of Mr Soden’s property left a note on Mrs Timmins’ car, which read: “Please don’t block our gate. I don’t want to scratch your car with my bike.”
The dispute escalated and Mr. Soden took the case to a Land Registry tribunal. After it was eventually recognised that accessing the garden through the gate was an established practice, the tribunal ruled in Mr Soden’s favour.
The tribunal judge, Mr William Hansen said: “I am satisfied that [Mr Soden] and his wife during the period of their ownership and his tenants have openly and continuously used the way as claimed and had done so for a least 20 years.”
In addition, as the Timmins’ parking space was more than twice the size of the average car, they would still be able to use the space if they parked further over to the left-hand side.
Mr Soden incurred £76,000 in legal fees, of which the Timmins were ordered to recompense him £27,000, on top of their own £45,000 legal bill.
This case is a lesson to remind us always to seek to negotiate a resolution to a problem if at all possible, as this can only serve to keep legal costs to a much more reasonable level.