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Knotweed compensation claims take root in UK courts

Bristol property owner fined for Japanese knotweed menace

Japanese Knotweed danger sign

14 December 2018

It was reported on Friday last week that Bristol Magistrate’s Court had ordered a local property owner, MB Estates Limited, to pay a fine of £18,000, for failing to prevent the spread of Japanese knotweed originating on the landowner’s property.

The legal action, brought by Bristol City Council, is thought to be one of the first prosecutions nationally using the Anti-Social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act 2014 to tackle the issue of knotweed. The Council had served the property owner with a community protection notice in May 2017 following complaints from seven properties neighbouring a house owned by MB Estates.

In addition to issuing the fine, the court also ordered MB Estates to remedy the problem. The council said this includes securing a plan from a specialist company detailing how the issue will be resolved. This must be done within 28 days of the Court’s ruling.

Sarah Moore, a consumer protection lawyer at Leigh Day, commented, ‘this recent ruling from Bristol Magistrate’s Court may use novel legislation, in the form of the Anti-Social Behaviour Act, in order to protect property owners from the damaging effects of knotweed, however, it appears to mark a growing willingness of UK Courts to rule against irresponsible property owners who do not take action to prevent the spread of knotweed originating on their land.

‘During the summer the Court of Appeal upheld a decision by a Welsh County Court ordering Network Rail to pay compensation to property owners who argued that the value of their properties had been reduced as a result of knotweed originating on land owned by Network Rail. This latest ruling is to be welcomed and should be seen as an indication that where individuals suffer property damage as a result of knotweed, they may well be entitled to substantial compensation.’

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