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.
May I ask if you accept that the fence was erected by him as he claims please?
Has the rockery actually damaged the fence to date?
Thanks. If you accept that the fence was erected by your neighbour then as you would expect the fence structure belongs to him. There is no implied right to use his fence for support in law and in order to use the structure for support of any kind it would be necessary to obtain his consent. If no consent has been obtained or would be granted by the neighbour then he could insist that you remove the rockery to the extent required so that his fence is no longer supporting it. You would not necessarily have to remove the rockery entirely if it were possible to install some sort of support behind it between it and the fence.
If he claims your rockery has damaged his fence then he has a potential claim against you for the cost of repair or if not possible to repair, then replacement of the relevant panels however the burden of proof is upon him to show that damage was caused by your actions on the balance of probability.
If he cannot prove on the balance of probability that you have caused damage to his fence then he will not be able to reclaim monies for damages to the fence.
Generally these sorts of situations are best resolved by negotiation whereby perhaps both parties compromise slightly if necessary to find a workable solution. It is generally not beneficial to either party to go to court particularly over fence panels because it is stressful, destructive to neighbourly relations and perhaps more importantly needs to then be delcared to any buyers when selling your properties in the future which does nothing for the sale price of your houses.
Is there anything above I can clarify for you>
In terms of damage, as discussed above the burden of proof is upon him to show that the damage he claims was caused by you as opposed to anything else, for example as you suspect because the fence has not been installed using appropriate supports and so on.
If he cannot demonstrate on the balance of probability that the damge he claims was caused by you was caused by you then he will be unable to recover any monies from you.
This may be an area however on which you may be able to find compromise for your mutual benefit rather than litigating on the point though of course there is no obligation to do so.
Is there anything else I can help you with?
If I can assist any further as the situation develops please do not hesitate to revert to me
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