Japanese knotweed—legal framework
Produced in partnership with Phlorum and Groundsure
Japanese knotweed—legal framework

The following Environment practice note produced in partnership with Phlorum and Groundsure provides comprehensive and up to date legal information covering:

  • Japanese knotweed—legal framework
  • Japanese knotweed locations
  • The legal framework
  • Civil liability
  • Criminal liability
  • Species control agreements and species control orders
  • Species control agreements (SCA)
  • Species control orders (SCO)
  • Invasive Alien Species (IAS) Regulation
  • Local authority notice
  • More...

Japanese knotweed locations

Japanese knotweed can be found almost all over the country. It can readily grow in nutrient-poor or contaminated soils, exploiting marginal areas of derelict land in urban areas and along railway lines. As most of its biomass is below ground, it only needs a small area of bare earth to push shoots through. See Practice Note: Japanese knotweed—management.

The legal framework

Although there is no legal obligation to remove Japanese knotweed or to report it to regulators, the spread of Japanese knotweed can result in civil and criminal liabilities and adversely affect the value, marketability and insurability of land.

Civil liability

A neighbour can bring a common law claim against the landlord or tenant if Japanese knotweed causes loss of enjoyment or damage to their land. See Practice Note: Private nuisance—general principles.

The encroachment of Japanese knotweed onto a neighbour’s property may also give rise to liability under a private nuisance claim. The Court of Appeal in Network Rail Infrastructure Ltd v Williams found that there is a potential liability even before Japanese knotweed has caused physical damage. The mere presence of its rhizomes may be sufficient.

The Master of the Rolls, Terence Etherton stated in his judgment that:

‘the mere presence of [Japanese knotweed’s] rhizomes imposes an immediate burden on the owner of the land in terms of an increased difficulty in the ability

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