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Ask James Mather Your Own Question
James Mather
James Mather,
Category: Law
Satisfied Customers: 22629
Experience:  Senior Partner at Berkson Wallace
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We have recently moved to a house with a brook bordering the

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We have recently moved to a house with a brook bordering the property in West Somerset. There is a field the other side with a barbed wire fence for most of the border but the barbed wire fence is on our side of the brook for part of the border (the fence crosses the brook). 1. Is it usual for the border to run down the centre of the brook and 2. Is it illegal for a barbed wire fence to border a residential property.
What would you like to achieve?
Customer: replied 5 years ago.

We have grandchildren which could hurt themselves on the barb wire and we would like to have it removed, but before confronting the owner I would like to know where we stand in law. As far as where the border of our property is it would be useful to know if we own to the midway of the brook. It goes under a conduit under the road and if blocked can cause some flooding but not to our property as the brook is about 5ft below our garden. But if it is blocked and the field is partially flooded we may be partly liable for keeping the conduit clear.

Also should the fence be on our side of the brook even if only for a few yards?

There is nothing illegal in a barbed wire fence bordering a residential property
provided it is not set there is a trap as it would be if it was hidden in a

The centre of a
brook is usually the boundary unless the deeds say otherwise.

It is interesting
to note that whoever owns the bed of the brook/stream/river does not
necessarily have any rights to the water. Also, whoever has the right to the
water does not necessarily have the right of access along the bank.

Depending on
where the culvert/conduit is, you may being indeed responsible for keeping it
clear and to be responsible for any damage caused if it floods.

You are going to
need to look closely at the deeds from the land registry to see exactly where
the red edging on your property is.

If the red edging
is on your side of the brook than the most logical any easiest way of dealing
with this rather than face a legal argument with the neighbouring landowner
(which you will not necessarily win) would be simply to put another fence
alongside it so that the grandchildren are protected from the barbed wire.

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The thread remains open for us to continue this exchange

James Mather and other Law Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 5 years ago.

Many thanks for your answer, I will ask the Land Registry for a detailed plan if available!

But two final points (please take your time answering if need be as you might want to enjoy easter without working!):

If the boundary is in the middle of the brook:

1. Would we be jointly liable for keeping the culvert clear and be jointly liable for any damage if it does flood and causes damage which is actually highly unlikely as the other person's field seems to flood if it gets blocked (it goes under the road in the corner of both our properties).

2. Should their fence be on our side at all (which as I have stated is the case for about 5 yards - but it does include where the brook goes under the road).

Many thanks