Warring neighbours spend £400,000 in legal battle over just 60cm of land after planners draw boundary line TOO THICK

Warring neighbours have spent £400,000 on legal bills in a battle over 60 centimetres of land after planners drew a boundary line on the map which was too thick, a court heard.

Had a draughtsman used a finer pen when marking out the boundaries then Spencer and Suzannaha Cooper's court battle with Geoffrey Silverman would never have happened.

But the ambiguity on the small scale plan has led to a costly legal fight and the case is now being taken to the Court of Appeal which will add to the costs.

Boundary battle: Dispute between the Cooper's and Geoffrey Silverman will have a full hearing at the Court of Appeal next year. It has already cost £400,000 in legal fees

Boundary battle: Dispute between the Cooper's and Geoffrey Silverman will have a full hearing at the Court of Appeal next year. It has already cost £400,000 in legal fees

A judge described the row over two feet of property in Broxbourne Common, Hertfordshire, as 'ruinous' as he gave permission for the case to go to the higher court.

The Coopers, live in a converted barn called The Studio, and Mr Silverman,is next door in Briar Cottage. Both properties were in common ownership until 2006 when Briar Cottage was hived off and sold to Mr Silverman.

A small scale plan was drawn up, marking out the new boundary with a thick pen, and the Coopers moved in to The Studio the following year.

The two homes front an idyllic bridleway, complete with a peaceful-looking picket fence, a flower bed, a shingled parking area, and the Coopers’ post box standing on a post.

The neighbours went to Central London County Court last year, where - after an enormously costly five-day hearing at which expert witnesses testified - Judge Marc Dight rejected the Coopers’ claims that the boundary lay on a straight line between the flank wall of The Studio and the bridleway.

Instead, after commenting on the ambiguity created by the thick line on the small scale plan, the judge said it 'accorded with common sense' that the boundary should lie along a brick kerb which separates the flower bed from the parking area.

The difference between the two sides was just 60cm.

Challenging the judge’s ruling at the Court of Appeal today, the Coopers’ barrister, Stephen Acton, insisted the plan was 'clear and unambiguous' and shows the boundary line exactly where the couple say it is.

Opening the way for a full Appeal Court hearing, Mr Justice Norris said the Coopers’ had viable grounds for challenging Judge Dight’s ruling.

The judge, sitting with Lord Justice Sedley, said: 'If we could spare the parties further expenditure over 60cm of ground, we would do so... but, regretfully, I feel compelled to grant permission to appeal.'

Another dispute over a propane gas facility that stands on The Studio’s land - but which both neighbours have abandoned using - was 'largely hypothetical'. But the Coopers were granted leave to appeal on that issue as well, due to the potential impact on legal costs.

Lord Justice Sedley directed that the Coopers must lodge £20,000 in court as 'security for costs' before pursuing their full appeal in front of three top judges, on a date yet to be fixed.

But, urging the neighbours to make peace, the judge said he hoped they might compromise 'to escape the ruinous consequences of victory, or defeat, in this court'.

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