Boundary Dispute Solicitors: Resolving Land Disputes


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What is a boundary dispute?

Boundary disputes refer to disagreements between property owners over the boundary lines of their properties. These disputes often arise due to unclear or inaccurate property descriptions in the title deeds, misunderstandings about who owns a particular piece of land. They may also arise due to disagreements about the position of boundary features like fences, walls, and hedges. The law surrounding boundary disputes can be complex, involving principles of land and property law, conveyancing practices, and statutory regulations.

The legal principles governing boundary disputes are derived from a combination of common law, case law, and statutes such as the Land Registration Act 2002.

The precise location of a boundary can be determined through historical deeds, conveyance documents, and, in registered land, the title plan held by the Land Registry. However, title plans often only show general boundaries, not the exact line.

For assistance in resolving a boundary dispute in relation to a commercial property or a residential property, you may wish to speak to a specialist property solicitor. Although ARC Costs cannot provide legal advice on resolving your dispute, we can however introduce you to a specialist solicitor within our network.

Common causes of boundary disputes

Boundary disputes often arise due to several common causes. These disputes are typically centred around the question of where the precise boundaries of a property lie. Outlined below are some of the most common causes of boundary disputes:

Lack of clear physical boundaries:

When physical markers such as fences, hedges, or party walls that define property boundaries are absent, unclear, or have changed over time, it can lead to disputes over the exact location of the boundary.

Inaccurate or outdated deeds:

Property deeds that contain outdated or inaccurate descriptions of boundaries can cause confusion. Over time, landscape changes or inaccuracies in original documents can lead to disputes.

Overlapping land titles:

Sometimes, the land registry plans for adjacent properties might have overlapping descriptions. This can lead to uncertainty over where one property ends and another begins.


Encroachment occurs when a property owner violates the property rights of another by building on or extending a structure to the neighbour’s land. This can happen intentionally or accidentally, often due to incorrect assumptions about boundary locations.

Adverse possession:

Adverse possession is a legal principle under which a person who occupies land belonging to another for an extended period may be able to claim legal ownership. This is provided certain conditions are met. Disputes can arise when one party claims land through adverse possession.

Differences in physical geography over time:

Natural changes in the landscape, such as river courses changing, erosion, or trees growing or being removed, can lead to disputes about boundary locations.

Variations in surveys and maps:

Discrepancies between different surveys or maps used to determine boundary lines can lead to conflicts. This is likely to happen if the surveys are outdated or were conducted using different methodologies.

Neighbour disagreements:

Simple disagreements between neighbours over where one property ends and another begins can escalate into formal disputes. These are more likely to happen in the absence of clear, agreed-upon boundaries.

Boundary disputes are often complex and can be costly and time-consuming to resolve. Resolution methods range from informal negotiations between neighbours to mediation, arbitration, and, in some cases, litigation. It’s generally advised to try and resolve such disputes amicably and professionally, with expert legal advice being sought if necessary.

Boundary dispute resolution methods

Resolving boundary disputes can be achieved through various methods, ranging from informal negotiations to formal legal proceedings. It is advisable to seek legal advice to help you take the best course of action on your boundary dispute case.

Informal Negotiation

Parties may attempt to reach a mutual agreement through direct discussions. This can be a cost-effective method and can strengthen neighbourly relations. Negotiation may not always lead to a resolution if parties are unable to agree.


An independent third party (mediator) helps the disputing parties to reach a voluntary agreement. The mediator facilitates discussions but does not impose a solution. This can be less adversarial than court, potentially faster and cheaper, and parties maintain control over the outcome. However, there is no guaranteed resolution, and if it fails, parties may still need to proceed to court.


Arbitration is a form of dispute resolution where an arbitrator (or panel of arbitrators) makes a decision (the “award”) on the dispute. The decision can be binding or non-binding, depending on the agreement between the parties. This can be quicker than court proceedings, allows for an expert in the field to decide the case, and the decision is generally final and binding.

However, it can be costly, and parties give up their right to a trial and to appeal the decision (in case of binding arbitration).


This is similar to arbitration, but often used in the context of construction disputes. An adjudicator makes a decision that is temporarily binding until the dispute is finally resolved via arbitration, litigation, or agreement. This is a quick resolution, which is especially useful in ongoing construction projects. The decision is only temporarily binding and can be challenged later.


Using litigation, the dispute is resolved through the court system, leading to a judge making a binding decision on the matter. This provides a clear, legally binding resolution and the opportunity for appeal.

Litigation; however, an be very expensive, time-consuming, and publicly accessible, potentially damaging relationships between the parties.


The role of boundary dispute solicitors

A property dispute solicitor law can offer specialist advice and assistance in boundary disputes through the following ways:

Clarifying the legal position:

Boundary dispute solicitors can interpret the deeds and any relevant legal documents to clarify the legal position regarding the boundary. This might involve historical research and analysis of conveyancing documents.

Land Registry plans:

Solicitors can obtain and examine detailed Ordnance Survey maps and Land Registry title plans to understand the registered boundaries. However, they will also explain that these documents may not resolve the exact boundary line, as they are often not detailed enough for this purpose.

Negotiation and mediation:

Before escalating to formal legal proceedings, a solicitor can assist in negotiating with the neighbour to reach a mutually acceptable agreement. They might also suggest mediation, where a neutral third party helps to facilitate a resolution.

Expert reports:

In cases where the boundary cannot be easily determined, solicitors may instruct a surveyor to produce a detailed report on the boundary’s location based on physical inspections and historical evidence.


If the dispute proceeds to court, a solicitor can represent the property owner, preparing the necessary legal documents and arguments. They will manage the litigation process, ensuring that the client’s case is presented effectively.

Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR):

Boundary dispute solicitors often recommend ADR methods, such as arbitration or mediation, as a way to resolve the dispute without the need for costly court proceedings.

Boundary agreements:

In some cases, the best solution might be to enter into a boundary agreement with the neighbouring landowner, legally defining the boundary line. A solicitor can draft this agreement to ensure it is legally binding.

How can ARC Costs assist?

ARC Costs maintains an extensive legal network of boundary dispute solicitors with a track record of success on these types of cases. We would be happy to pass on your details to assist in your case. 

In addition to introducing you to a solicitor, we can also assist in the recovery and negotiation of legal costs in boundary dispute cases.

ARC Costs are highly experienced in advising and assisting with costs issues and disputes in different areas of law. As Costs Draftsman and Costs Lawyers, we can assist in your Commercial Litigation Costs issues.

If a costs award has been made, allowing you to recover costs from your opponent, we can assist with preparing a Bill of Costs on your behalf to ensure maximum recoverability. We can also assist in Costs Negotiations and represent you at detailed assessment proceedings which can determine the amount of costs you may be able to recover.

If you have been ordered to pay costs to your opponent, we can assist in disputing costs which may be sought and which you may deem to be excessive and unreasonable. We can do this by way of preparation of  Points of Dispute and also through negotiations to ensure you will only pay for costs which are reasonably incurred and not exaggerated.

Should you wish to discuss your costs query with us, please contact us on 01204 397302 or via email at Alternatively, you can complete our online query form and we will contact you to discuss your query further. We can provide expert legal advice on costs in our free, no obligation initial consultation.

We may receive payments from third party solicitors on our panel to whom we may refer your claim. We will never charge you for any referrals made to our panel of third parties.


4 Bark Street East, Bolton, BL1 2BQ

01204 397302

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