Landmark case signals new wave of Japanese Knotweed litigation

Court of Appeal has backed a homeowner's bid for compensation after the weed spread from a neighbour's property into his garden.


high court knotweed

The tangled world of knotweed litigation is even denser now that a home owner has been allowed to be claim compensation after the ‘pernicious’ plant spread from an adjacent cycle track owned by his neighbour – a local authority – to his garden.

The problems at the terraced house owned by landlord Marc Davies date back to 2013 when the weed was first logged as a problem.

But it was only until recently that it came to a head at court, with a District Judge saying he could not recover the £4,900 he sought for the ‘blight’ to his property.

The Court of Appeal (pictured) has overturned this, concluding that although work had been completed to remove knotweed from the site ‘as best as it can be’, there had been a ‘residual’ diminution in value of the property, also called ‘blight’ to the value claimed.

Although the sum involved may look like small beer, the landmark judgement throws open the litigation floodgates for local councils who have allowed knotweed to stray from their land.

The barrister who represented Davies has confirmed this is an important decision, saying: “It confirms that a homeowner who suffers a loss in the value of their home from the stigma left by Japanese knotweed even after it has been treated can recover damages for that loss.”

Large sums are involved – it has cost Davies’ local authority, Bridgend Council, some £300,000 in legal costs thus far.”

The decision also highlights the huge problems that knotweed presents – namely that once land has been contaminated by the plant and its rhizomes, the remedial measures needed to make any alterations to that land including in this case just gardening in it, can cause huge disturbance and cost.

This is because, in many cases, the entire topsoil has to be removed and disposed of.

Read the judgement in full.

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