Q&As

Can someone trim their neighbour’s hedge without permission which is encroaching their garden?

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Produced in partnership with Brie Stevens-Hoare QC of Hardwicke Chambers
Published on LexisPSL on 25/07/2016

The following Property Disputes Q&A produced in partnership with Brie Stevens-Hoare QC of Hardwicke Chambers provides comprehensive and up to date legal information covering:

  • Can someone trim their neighbour’s hedge without permission which is encroaching their garden?

Can someone trim their neighbour’s hedge without permission which is encroaching their garden?

The simple answer to this question is yes, there is a right to lop or cut back hedges or trees that belong to a neighbour and overhang your land. The right to lop is an ancient right to abate a nuisance or a trespass. Most of the authorities go back to the 19th century for instance Earl of Lonsdale v Nelson (1823) 2 B&C 302 (not available on Lexis®Library) and Lemmon v Webb [1895] AC 1. In modern times the right was confirmed in Dayani v Bromley LBC [2001] BLR 503 (not available on Lexis®Library).

However, as is always the case things are never that simple. There are a number of possible pitfalls. Care must be taken to ensure the right has arisen and is being properly exercised. See Practice Note: Neighbour disputes—noise and nuisance.

The right depends on the lopping that is undertaken being necessary to abate a trespass or nuisance. The question that immediately arises is therefore whether there is in fact a trespass and/or nuisance. Roots as well as growth above ground may sometimes give rise to a trespass or nuisance and if they do they can also be the subject of a right to lop. See Practice Note: What is nuisance?

Being a self-help remedy to abate an existing wrong, the

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