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Joshua, Lawyer
Category: Law
Satisfied Customers: 26070
Experience:  LL.B (Hons), Higher Prof. Dip. Law & Practice
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We purchased an old coal yard in 2014 and have built

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We purchased an old coal yard in 2014 and have built a house on it now. The site was owned by an old lady who lived next door. The entire site was covered by one land registery document, so a new one had to be produced when we took over the owner ship of the coal yard Boundaries had to be decided at that time. The land of the old ladies house sits about 1.5metres to 2metres higher than the coal yard.
when we moved in the coal yard had a number of concrete block pens which held different types of coal and coke. The were in very bad condition and have either fallen down or been taken down. This applied to an area between the two properties and surprisingly there is a stone wall behind the coal pen.
A new person has moved in to the ladies house and is trying to get permission to demolish the house and build a new one.
Neither of purchase document detailed which boundary is owned by whom except the rearone to the coal yard.
the land between the old ladies home and ther coal yard now has no form of holding it back and is slowly slipping down. Incidentally this land has been backfilled in the past by the coal man who has deposited old coal, concrete blocks and steel ....suggest that this was once part of the coal yard.
Are there any case laws to assist us to sort out who is responsible for which boundary and of course the retaining wall needed to hold the old ladies garden back.
Hello and thank you for your question. I will be very pleased to assist you. I'm a practising lawyer in England with over 10 years experience. Do you know from your knowledge of the land or inspecting it whether either your or the other land has been artificially raised or lowered or whether the different levels are just natural topography of the land please?
Customer: replied 2 years ago.

before being the old coal yard it was the village quarry. Lots of stone has been taken out We hd to pile the ground to 20 foot to get to bedrock to build of.

I would suggest that the quarry was lowered

Sorry for the short delay in responding to you - I had to step away briefly. Thank you very much for the above. There is no statutory authority or law that assists with defining responsibility for retaining walls but there is some guidance in case law decisions which point to relevant issues being how the land came to be higher in the first place-i.e. is it naturally higher or was the land artificially raised or conversely the lower land artificially lowered and responsibility of a landowner for land slip. If it is not obvious (which is not always the case) you may therefore consider that it is worthwhile retaining a surveyor to provide an opinion on the position. What is not obvious to us non surveyors is sometimes conclusively determinable though not always. From what you say though in your opinion it is likely that your land is the land which has been lowered and you reasoning for this appears perfectly sound and it is probably difficult in the cicurcumstances to reach any other conclusion. Case law shows that it would usually be for the person raising or lowering the land (or successors in title that acquire the land) that would be responsible for installing and maintaining a retaining wall. So here if you accept that a prevous owner of your land lowered your land relative to the neighbouring land, case law suggest that you would bear responsibility for retaining the neighbours land. Some relevant decisions in the courts that give some guidance an support this position are Leakey v National Trust where the Trust was held liable for a landslip of soil from its land due to lack of maintenance. In Sedleigh v Callaghan some event occurring on higher land creating conditions which resulted in damages being awarded to the owner of the lower land. However case law has not been entirely consistent and there have been decisions which have depart from the above though the more recent line holds with the general line that normally, it would be one a presumption that the owner of the higher land is responsible for maintenance of the retaining wall to the extent so as to prevent landslip onto the lower land unless (as is the case here) the owner of the higher land can demonstrate that the owner of the lower land was the one that lowered his land artificially so as to give rise to the need for a retaining wall whereby the responsibility roles are reversed. If you had a survey this is something that should have been picked up on your homebuyers or structural survey. If the srveyor failed to point out any issues with the retaining wall and you commissioned a survey there may be a basis for a question at the very least to be put to the surveyor on the point. Some insurance polices give coverage for landslip which may also be worth checking on. I hope the above is of assistance? If you have no further questions for now I should be very grateful if you would kindly take a moment to click to rate my service to you today or just reply back to let me know if the above is helpful. Your feedback is important to me. If there is anything else I can help with please reply back to me I'd be very grateful
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