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Neighbours Spend £300,000 in Dispute over Blocked Drain

Any level-headed lawyer will warn you that litigation is not for the faint-hearted and that compromise is almost always a better option. In one case that proved the point, neighbours ran up legal costs of more than £300,000 in a dispute over a blocked drain.

A couple sued their neighbour for alleged nuisance after a problem with the drain led to the flooding of a courtyard adjoining their home. A judge upheld their claim that works on the drain carried out by contractors on the neighbour’s instructions had caused the flood. They were awarded damages of £4,277.

In overturning that decision, the Court of Appeal ruled that the neighbour’s use of her land had been reasonable and that, on the basis on which it was pleaded, the couple’s case could not succeed. The Court lamented the wholly disproportionate legal costs that had been incurred in pursuing such a relatively low value claim.