Do I need an expert witness
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- neighbours disputes
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Why do boundaries issues arise?
There are numerous reasons why boundary issues arise, but there are two which are the most common. Firstly, disputes can occur when one of the neighbours deliberately or unknowingly replace the boundary structure such as a fence, a ditch or a hedge.
Secondly, a dispute can arise if the plans and/title documents are not transparent or have a conflict. Therefore, since the Land Registry documents & Ordnance Survey Plans claim not to be 100% accurate, the involved parties may have to solve their disputes in court or with the help of an expert.
Property disputes may arise due to some factors like professional negligence, marital breakups, neighbour disputes, and dissolving a partnership. If you have any dispute and you don’t have the skills nor the experience to handle or solve it, it is advisable to seek help from an expert.
What do experts do?
The first thing is to carefully analyse all the documents from both parties, including title deeds, Land Registry documents, deed plans, aerial images, and historical photos. This is followed by site inspection. The main objective of site inspection is to take measurements and assess the different physical boundary features.
After gathering all the required information, the experts will assess and analyse the evidence to answer all the questions asked by the instructing solicitor or the client.
If the questions asked include valuing, the experts can provide reliable information on annual loses, costs to solve the dispute and the loss of freehold value. To help the client, experts usually prepare a report to summarise the findings and offer their professional advice or opinion.
What does an expert work for?
An expert can work in different capacities depending on who hired him/her or where he/she got the instructions from. An expert can work for one of the parties, both the parties or for the court.
When an expert is acting for the court or joint for the parties, he/she should follow Civil Procedure Rules. These rules ensure that the expert hired has a duty to the court, and as a result, he/she should be independent regardless of the party represented. This is done to avoid biases and to solve the dispute amicably.
When does an expert get involved?
Although courts expect boundary disputes to be solved outside the court, sometimes relying on the court of law is the only way to get justice for some people. Therefore, the ideal time to involve an expert is when legal proceedings are inevitable, and either or both of the parties involved want their cases to be robust.
In some cases, the analysis provided by the expert can help settle the dispute without the involvement of legal proceedings. This is an easier and cost-effective approach, especially when both parties agree, share the costs and understand the report given by the expert.
If you are not sure whether or not you want to proceed to the court, there is no reason why you should not involve an expert. However, if you involve an expert informally, both parties should carefully analyze the facts provided before reaching a final decision.
Do you have questions about using an expert witness for a property or boundary dispute? Would you benefit from the advice of a qualified RICS surveyor? Follow the link below to find out more.