Senior associate solicitor Jonathan Dinsdale, in law firm Blandy & Blandy’s Dispute Resolution team, looks at a recent case and decision by the Court of Appeal involving Japanese Knotweed.
The spectre of Japanese Knotweed litigation has risen again following a recent decision by the Court of Appeal that a homeowner has been allowed to claim compensation after the harmful plant spread from a neighbouring cycle track owned by the local authority into his garden. Marc Davies began experiencing problems with the pernicious weed back in 2013, however it was not until recently that the case came before the Court with a District Judge ruling that Mr Davies was not able to recover the £4,900.00 he claimed for the alleged blight to his property.
His Honour Judge Beard has overturned this in his ruling of 3 February 2023, concluding that although the local authority had carried out a reasonable and effective treatment programme in 201 to remove the Japanese Knotweed from the site as best as it could, there had been a residual diminution in value of the property. Mr Davies successfully argued that even once treated, the Japanese Knotweed had reduced the value of his house as it stopped him from being able to carry out landscaping works and put up a shed or building in his garden.
Although the damages successfully claimed are nominal, this landmark judgment potentially allows the floodgates to open against local councils which have allowed Japanese Knotweed to escape from their land. Counsel for Mr Davies confirmed the importance of the Court of Appeal decision saying that “It confirms that a homeowner who suffers a loss in the value of their home from the stigma left from Japanese Knotweed even after it has been treated, can recover damages for that loss”.
It is reported that legal fees for the Respondent, Bridgend Council, were somewhere in the region of £300,000.00. Japanese Knotweed is a serious problem due to the fact that land which is contaminated by the plant and its rhizomes requires significant remedial measures as in most cases in order to remove the presence of the rhizomes, the entire top soil must be removed and disposed as a hazardous waste.
Should you require any assistance in relation to a dispute involving Japanese Knotweed or another form of property dispute, please contact Jonathan Dinsdale in our Dispute Resolution team.
For further information or legal advice, please visit www.blandy.co.uk.