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Jo C.
Jo C., Barrister
Category: Law
Satisfied Customers: 71154
Experience:  Over 5 years in practice
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I got a letter from the council about damage to a protected tree in my neighbour's ga

Customer Question

I got a letter from the council about damage to a protected tree in my neighbour's garden. I am not responsible for the damage but an overzealous East European worker that did a job for us in the area knows about it. How do I respond to this letter?
Submitted: 2 years ago.
Category: Law
Expert:  Jo C. replied 2 years ago.
Thank you for your question. My name is ***** ***** I will try to help with this.
If the person in question was working in your garden at your direction then you are liable as he is your agent. That is, of course, unless he does something entirely unexpected by you.
You may well have a claim against him for any costs that he causes you to incur but there is no defence in saying that another person was responsible if that other was your agent.
There are a number of defences to causing damage in circumstances like removing dead branches or pruning etc. If you canot bring yourself within any of those then you may face a fine although it will not usually be massive.
Can I clarify anything for you?
Customer: replied 2 years ago.

The person in question did work on my property but his action was totally unexpected; I did complain about the tree and mentioned that it was the responsibility of the neighbor to sort it out, he took matters into his hands.

I'm not sure what the consequences of his action would be & I dont think it is right for me to take the heat for this.

I dont live at the property in question as it was rented out & the tenant just recently left. How do I respond to the council's letter?

Content of Letter

To Owner/Occupier

Town & Country Planning Act 1990 (As Amended)

Damage Caused to Oak Tree – Standing in Group 30 of Tree Preservation Order

Further to a recent Inspection, it has been noted with concern that damage has been caused to the Oak Tree in the rear garden of the above property – with four 30cm deep, 2.5cm wide holes have been drilled into the trunk of the tree at approximately 80cm from ground level and a substance having apparently been poured into this holes.

It should be noted that it is a criminal offence – which may carry a heavy penalty to undertake or to cause or permit unauthorised work to damage a tree included within a Tree Preservation Order.

If you were responsible for the damage which has been caused to this tree (as described above), involved in any way, or know who was responsible for the damage, would you please send me in writing by 10th June 2015 any Information or mitigation which you would like to be taken into account.

A decision will be made as to what further action is appropriate upon receipt of theses details.

Yours faithfully

Expert:  Jo C. replied 2 years ago.
Why did this person take this action?
What did he say about it?
Customer: replied 2 years ago.

He said he was trying to do us a favor & I'm now hassling him.

I tried to get his address & he's stopped answering my call.

Expert:  Jo C. replied 2 years ago.
If he was not acting at your direction then you are not liable for his actions.
He is likely to say that he was obviously.
I would respond to that letter setting out the identify of the person responsible. There are offences allowing them to pursue you but if they find the principle they will not.
Customer: replied 2 years ago.

Thks for the response. Can you let me know what offences they can pursue me for so I can be prepared for this?

Expert:  Jo C. replied 2 years ago.
You would argue that you didn't do the act and they may argue that you used an agent to do so.