A 25 000-euro fence

In an area of detached houses many things in the neighborhood may irritate you. By law, neighborly relations are handled in the Act on certain neighborhood relations, which was adopted in 1920 and subsequently amended several times.

In the public there has been a case in which the neighbors have been arguing even in the Court of Appeal over a hedge. This dispute is a good example of a case in which the neighborliness is at least not getting better. It should have been able to be settled outside the court. Although reconciliation would not have been achieved, interest in the dispute is in any case very small, taking into account the risk of the costs of the trial.

According to the law, a neighbor is entitled to remove the disturbing branches and roots on his side. Such a right exists when the neighbor next door does not respond within a reasonable time after receiving the request to remove them. In addition, the prerequisite for taking action is that the branches or roots cause harm.

The dispute was that the defendant’s aronia berry hedge was partially on the neighbor’s side. The claimant requested the District Court to order the defendant to remove the hedgerow. The District Court sentenced the defendant, according to the claim, to remove the shrubs and pay the claimant’s costs. The hedge has become already very expensive at that stage and the owner of the hedge was forced to pay.

The defendant did not settle himself for this, but complained to the Court of Appeal. The Court of Appeal came to the opposite conclusion. According to the Court of Appeal, the law does not include any legal obligation of the defendant to remove the hedge from the neighbor’s side or to compensate for the costs of removing the hedge. The claim was therefore not based on the law. The law only allows the claimant to remove the disturbing branches and roots on his own. The claimant therefore lost the case.

The court sentenced both parties to pay their costs themselves, even though it would have been possible to sentence all the costs to the claimant. As a result, both of them had to bear their own costs which were around € 25,000 total. Hopefully the parties had their legal expenses insurances fine. It is possible to continue the dispute even in the Supreme Court if a party receives leave to appeal.

So what was the outcome of the dispute? Both neighbors lost their money. Possibly the hedge is still on the plot boundaries if the lost party has not taken the branches off from his side. The horticultural or aesthetic outcome is not necessarily very nice, given that the removal right applies only to the branches and roots on the party’s own side.

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