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F E Smith
F E Smith, Advocate
Category: Law
Satisfied Customers: 17586
Experience:  I have been practising for 30 years.
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I have an issue with a large builder who i believe has

Customer Question

JA: Hi. How can I help?
Customer: I have an issue with a large builder who i believe has damaged my rear hedge and has compromised security.
JA: Where are you? It matters because laws vary by location.
Customer: I have contacted them several times by e-mail and they will not accept any liability but have offered to supply only two fence panels. This will not resove the problem. WV5 0Jb
JA: What steps have you taken so far?
Customer: Sent photographs and several e-mails
JA: Anything else you want the Lawyer to know before I connect you?
Customer: The builder is Bovis Homes; so quite big
Submitted: 18 days ago.
Category: Law
Expert:  F E Smith replied 18 days ago.

Welcome to Just Answer.

I will be happy to assist with your question today. I need some time to consider this and compose a response. There is NO need to wait online because you will get an email when I respond. Sometimes it will be minutes, sometimes longer.

I apologise for any unavoidable delay, but rest assured I have not forgotten your question.

can you give me the background to your question please

and is this a new development?

Customer: replied 18 days ago.
It is a new development that backs on to my rear garden. My house is 42 years old and i have lived here since 1981. My rear hedge, primarily holly. has matured over those years forming a security barrier. Since work began on the development the hedge has rapidly deteriorated and is now virtually non-existent for part. I have sent photographs which i believe shows clear signs of erosion from the works; Bovis Homes dispute this but as a gesture of goodwill they agreed to supply only two fence panels. I deem this unacceptable since they are neither aesthetically equivalent nor secure.,
Expert:  F E Smith replied 18 days ago.

I don’t know whether they have offered to supply 2 fence panels to replace fence panels or they have offered a couple of fence panels and you can do what you like with them.

To be frank, with the financial wherewithal which the developer has, I think this is an insult bearing in mind that a couple of fence panels, probably costs 20 quid.

You have a claim against the developer in negligence.

It will help if I explain how claims in negligence arise.

There needs to be

1. a duty of care

2. the duty of care needs to be breached

3. as a result of the breach there needs to be loss or injury

4. the loss or injury must be as a result of the breach

5. the loss or injury resulting from the breach must be reasonably foreseeable.

In order for there to be a claim in negligence, all 5 heads have to be satisfied.

You are entitled to be put back in the position that you would have been had the negligence not occurred.

You are going to need some evidence from an expert which says exactly what happened to the hedge and you are going to need a quotation for putting a mature hedge back in and that’s not going to be cheap.

Armed with that evidence you then go back to them and tell them that they have, say, 15 working days to put the whole thing right failing which you would take them to court for the cost of the remedial work.

If the date comes and goes, you cannot beat them with sticks and your only remedy is to take them to the Small Claims Court. is quick and easy. You can prepare the proceedings now, and save them online ready to issue them whenever a deadline expires.

You may find that a strongly worded letter from a solicitor threatening a court application and an application for costs, may focus the mind without actually the need to get to court.

Check your house insurance to see if you have legal expenses cover that would pay for the legal cost of taking this to court.

I am glad to help.

Hopefully, I have answered your query in a way that is simple and easy to understand.

I would be more than happy to clarify anything else for you. In the meantime, thank you once again for using our services.

I am happy to answer any specific points arising from this.

Please be aware that my answer is based strictly upon the information you have given me.

If you still need any points clarifying, I will be happy to reply because the thread does not close. In fact, it remains open indefinitely.

I am always happy to answer any further questions you have on any new thread in which case, please start your question with, “ For FES only”.

That only applies to new threads, not this one. You have me exclusively on this one.

Thank you.

Best wishes.


Customer: replied 18 days ago.
For FES only
Thank you for your prompt reply.
As you say getting irrefutable evidence from an expert is not going to be cheap and, given the nature of the problem, may be inconclusive.
I was trying to avoid this.
My case is that the hedge is well over 40 years old and has been thriving until work commenced. There is photographic evidence of roots being laid bare but Bovis refute that this was down to their negligence and possibly down to natural erosion. My point to them is "why would this happen after so long a period?"
Their offer is to supply two panels only and not even fit.
The preferred solution is to replace the damaged plants; i accept that it will not be mature (therefore not as good as the original) but at least it gives something.
More important than the pure aesthetics there is now a considerable area where access to the rear of my property is easy.
Is a "strongly worded letter from a solicitor" likely to succeed?Richard
Expert:  F E Smith replied 18 days ago.

Do remember that you only have to prove it more likely than not that this caused the problem and your claim would succeed. However you are going to need some evidence other than “it wasn’t like that before”.

Just because roots have been laid bare, doesn’t necessarily mean that something is going to die. You could probably get a letter from any tree expert that would be sufficient to say whether it’s natural erosion or any work done by the developer. A lot would come down of course to how close to the hedge the development work was actually being carried out. If for example they have dumped cement on the ground, it is well known for killing plants and trees.

Certainly, a strongly worded letter from a solicitor is going to carry more weight than one from you but being brutally honest, I don’t think they would do anything unless the court proceedings landed on the doormat.