Japanese knotweed is an invasive non-native plant that can lead to significant problems because it can cause physical damage to buildings and land and is expensive to eradicate and dispose of.

Although there is no legal obligation to remove Japanese knotweed or to report it if you find it on your land, the spread of knotweed can result in civil and criminal liability and adversely affect the value of a property and its insurability. This means that you may be liable to compensate a neighbour if the knotweed spreads from your land to theirs even if the knotweed has not caused physical damage: the mere presence of its roots or rhizomes is sufficient.

The Supreme Court recently considered the issue of knotweed and liability in the case of Davies v Bridgend County Council. This case involved a claim for loss of value to Mr Davies’s land which he said was caused by Japanese Knotweed coming from the Council’s former railway land onto his.  By the time Mr Davies’s claim was brought the knotweed on his property had been managed, although not eradicated, but he claimed that the “stigma” of its presence caused a ‘residual diminution in value’ to his property of £4,900.

(Image: pic supplied)

The Supreme Court decided, perhaps surprisingly, that the loss of value had occurred long before any duty of care in private nuisance was owed and therefore the Council were not liable. The Council may have breathed a sigh of relief at this decision but only after three court cases which will have come at a not inconsiderable cost.

Knotweed is just one of a number of non – native invasive plants that can be a headache for landowners and expose them to court claims. However, other otherwise harmless plants such as ivy or indeed tree roots can also cause damage to your neighbour’s property if they encroach into or under buildings and could result in a claim against you. If this is something that you are concerned about you should obtain professional advice.

For any help and advice regarding this article or any other litigation or dispute matter please contact Johanne Spittle, Director - Litigation & Dispute Resolution at Ware & Kay incorporating Pearsons & Ward on York 01904 716000, Wetherby 01937 583210 or Malton 01653 692247 or email johanne.spittle@warekay.co.uk.