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Joshua
Joshua, Lawyer
Category: Law
Satisfied Customers: 26069
Experience:  LL.B (Hons), Higher Prof. Dip. Law & Practice
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BT cables were attached many years ago in untidy bundles to

Customer Question

BT cables were attached many years ago in untidy bundles to the gable end of a listed house that my daughter now owns. The wayleave question is uncertain but BT claim the cables are there legally and refuse to tidy them up.
In an application for an order to have them tidied up, would the claim be made in trespass or nuisance?
Submitted: 2 years ago.
Category: Law
Expert:  Joshua replied 2 years ago.
Joshua :

Hello and thank you for your question. I will be very pleased to assist you. I'm a practicing lawyer in England with over 10 years experience.

Joshua :

May I ask if you know very roughly when the wires were installed please? I appreciate this is only likely to be ballpark at best.

Joshua :

From what you say no wayleave has been located for the wiring?

JACUSTOMER-70zwhq3g- :

The property is at the end of a small terrace of houses which date from the 18th century.

Joshua :

Thanks. Do you know very roughly when the wires themselves were installed please?

JACUSTOMER-70zwhq3g- :

The cabling will have been installed in stages perhaps going back 50 years or so.

JACUSTOMER-70zwhq3g- :

I believe there is no wayleave but BT have intimated that the wayleave question has been complicated by the change of the physical divisions between properties in the terrace over the years.

Joshua :

Thanks. The position regarding BT - or as it now is Openreach (BT was required to spin off its cabling network to Openreach though it is still controlled by BT) - cabling is complex in that their rights are determined part by common law and private agreements (wayleaves) and part by statute...

Joshua :

The position here given the length of time the wires have been in situ is that wayleave or no Openreach (BT) will have a right to maintain the cables in place if for no other reason then because they have been there for more than 50 years. However tha does not mean that your daughter has no rights. Openreach remains bound by the provisions of the Communications Act and the Electronic Communications Code Regulations 2003

Joshua :

Condition 3 of the Code regulations provide that Openreach must when installing cables minimise the impact on the visual amenity of properties, in particular buildings on the statutory list of buildings. They may raise a defence in that the cables were installed before this legislation came into effect and that this provision only relates to installations carried out after the code came into effect but it can still be worth raising the point.

Joshua :

Beyond the above there is no provision in the Code that requires Openreach to address visual impact of old wiring. In order to force action, your daughter would need to rely on safety provisions of the Code. Openreach is required under the code to maintain its apparatus. If the wiring is in your daughters opinion dangerous, even if her opinion is ultimately incorrect, she may consider raising such a claim. Under condition 10 of the Code, if Openreach receives a report that any electronic communications apparatus is in a dangerous state it musy investigate that report and, if necessary, make the apparatus safe. Of course if they can show that it is not dangerous and is just unsighlty then they do not have to do anything but it at least forces them to inspect and if they do find a problem, rectify it.

Joshua :

In addition if the wiring is faulty and ust be reinstalled they are required under the Code to install such wiring underground unless they can show it is unreasonable to do so.

Joshua :

If the above ultimately fails then your daughter does have a right to require them to remove the wiring and reinstall it underground. This is a right but it does have a sting in the tail. Unless she can show it is dangerous as above, she must pay the cost of the relocation.

Joshua :

If Openreach do not respond according to their obligations under the Code as above, then your daughter can make a complaint for breach of the Code to Ofcom which can force compliance.

Joshua :

There is unfortunately therefore no direct way she can simply insist on the removal of the wires without opening her wallet because of the length of time the wires have been in situ but she may be successful in using some of the above techniques to provide a reason for reinstallation or relocation at the cost of Openreach rather than herself.

Joshua :

Does the above answer all your questions or is there anything I can clarify or help you with any further?

JACUSTOMER-70zwhq3g- :

Would you just say what the critical length of time is for the cabling to have been insitu

Joshua :

Certainly. The critical issue here is that the cables have been in place for more than 20 years from what you say. This means that apart from anything else BT Openreach will have a right under the Precription Act to maintain them where they are but the installation is still subject to the provisions of the Code we have discussed above which gives your daughter the above rights.

Joshua :

Is there anything else I can clarify for you?

JACUSTOMER-70zwhq3g- :

That's fine, thank you.

Joshua :

Best wishes

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