This Saturday (9th November 2019) marks the 30th anniversary of one of the most important events in recent history, the fall of the Berlin Wall.
To mark the occasion, here are five fascinating facts about facades, fortifications, borders, boundaries and barriers. All without any mention of ‘hard borders’!
- Too many walls and not enough bridges
Disputes over property boundaries are all too common and usually begin with the erection of a wall, a fence or some similar structure on land that is disputed. Disputes can often be avoided if boundaries are established with your neighbour before putting up the wall or fence but, unfortunately, they are sometimes unavoidable.
Any boundary that is shown on a Land Registry title plan is subject to ‘the general boundaries rule’. This simply means that the precise line of the boundary is not determined unless an application is made to fix it.
There is case law to support the fact that title plans show only a general boundary and not a precise one. The precise legal boundary between two pieces of land is fixed by the deeds which show the title to the land.
- Wall together now
If there is a ‘T’ mark on a plan of your property, this usually indicates the ownership or repairing obligations for a boundary feature. However, it should be noted that this is not a hard and fast rule and the Courts and the Land Registry are willing to ignore these marks unless they are referred to and explained somewhere in the relevant deeds or conveyance.
- Another brick in the wall
Planning permission is required for any new fence, gate or wall that is over two metres high. This normally includes adding a trellis panel to the top of an existing fence to take it over two metres and may also include adding wires or brackets for climbing plants to an existing fence, although this will depend on the circumstances.
Growing a plant over the top of a fence so as to take it over two metres does not usually require planning permission but this will depend on whether there are any covenants or restrictions in the deeds to the property.
A new fence or wall that borders a public highway which is used for vehicles is likely to need planning permission if it is over one metre high.
- Walls come tumbling down
A bit of legal myth debunking…
There are various stories about what can be done within certain walls. For example, that it is legal to shoot a Welshman with a longbow inside the city walls of Chester after midnight or that it is legal to shoot a Scotsman within the city walls of York, other than on a Sunday. Dutton Gregory does not recommend testing any of these laws!
Unsurprisingly, it is illegal to shoot a Welsh or Scottish (or any other) person regardless of the day, location or choice of weaponry. The idea that it may once have been allowed in Chester probably arises from a reputed City Ordnance of 1403 which was passed in response to the Glyndwr Rising and imposed a curfew on Welshmen in the city. However, it is not clear that this Ordnance actually ever existed in the first place. The York law appears to be a fabrication, it is unclear where this myth has come from. In any case, unlawful killings are today covered by the criminal law (rather than any City Ordnance) and the right to life is protected by Article 2 of the European Convention on Human Rights.
- Walk this way
Another legal myth that is often quoted is that it is illegal to move a body across a parish or county boundary unless a fee is paid and a coffin is used. This is untrue.
The body of a baby, child or adult may be moved anywhere within England and Wales without using a coffin and without charge or permission, as long as the work of the coroner is not obstructed. A coroner must, however, consent before the body can be taken out of England and Wales. The belief that fees must be paid on crossing boundaries probably derives from the payment of tolls on old turnpike roads.
Dutton Gregory is here to assist and give professional advice on boundary disputes and any other legal matter, whether private or corporate.
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