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Jo C.
Jo C., Barrister
Category: Law
Satisfied Customers: 71140
Experience:  Over 5 years in practice
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If a neighbour in objecting in a written submission to a planning

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If a neighbour in objecting in a written submission to a planning application uses language suggesting that we are not of good character is that considered as libel?

Thank you for your question. My name is XXXXX XXXXX I will try to help with this.

What was the allegation?

Is it untrue?
Customer: replied 4 years ago.

" evident that the Applicant has no interest in the environment and the local area since purchase of this unique property, the applicant from July 2012 has let the house and its beautiful gardens go to absolute wreck(sic) and ruin...."

During the period we have lived and worked overseas and employed a local person as a gardner

Have the gardens declined?
Customer: replied 4 years ago.

that is a matter of opinion.- and is it any of his business particularly as there is a 2 metre fence =which I maintain - between the properties

My point is I have paid a gardener


In short, these comments are capable of being defamatory but probably would not succeed here.

Certainly the words he used are ones that are capable of being defamatory. You only have to show that it would reduce you in the minds of reasonable people. Its not a devastating allegation but its certainly a slight.

The difficulty here that I can seek immediately is that he will either rely on the defences of truth or fair comment.

Truth is harder to raise as he has to prove that the allegations are true. You do seem to accept that at least they may be true and so its very probably game over I'm afraid. I do realise you've paid a gardener but that doesn't remove the fact that he is alleging a decline and you seem to accept that arguably there has been.

Failing that though, he will just drop down on the defence of fair comment. That is a much harder defence to knock down. He only has to prove that the comments were reasonable in all the circumstances and, given that you seem to accept that they may have been, its likely that this would assist him.

The issue is not whether the decline is your fault. The issue is whether there has been a decline.

I'm sorry this isn't the answer you wanted but it is the position that you face and I have a duty to inform you truthfully.

Hope this helps. Please let me know if you need more information.
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Customer: replied 4 years ago.


The fact that the previous owners and our opinion of what constitutes a 'nice' garden does not give the neighbour the right to judge the state of the garden.

By any normal standard it would have been impossible to rate the garden when we purchased as there was virtually no space that was not planted - simply a wilderness that had had no real attention for a number of years.


Whilst we are at the beginning of our 'journey' re the garden I do not believe any reasonable person would offer the view that the garden has deteriorated in any respect. Many would argue that we have significantly improved the ambience of the property with what we have done

I'm afraid I can't agree with your first point. He has a right to an opinion and to express it in the UK.

If he is wrong on the point then you might have a challenge but bear in mind he only needs to show its a reasonable comment in all the circumstances.