A recurring problem in the course property refurbishment and development relates to party or boundary walls. The Party Wall etc Act 1996 provides a statutory framework for preventing and resolving disputes in relation to party walls, boundary walls and excavations near neighbouring buildings.


A building owner proposing to start work covered by the Act is required to give adjoining owners notice of their intentions in the way specifically stipulated in the Act. Adjoining owners can agree or disagree with what is proposed by the building owner. Where they disagree, a dispute is deemed to have arisen and the Act provides a mechanism for resolving the dispute. It is also to be noted that operation of the Act is separate and distinct from obtaining planning permission or building regulations approval for the proposed works. The Act defines the main types of party walls as follows:


‣ a wall that stands on the lands of 2 (or more) owners and forms part of a building – this wall can be part of one building only or separate buildings belonging to different owners.

‣ a wall that stands on the lands of 2 owners but does not form part of a building, such as a garden wall but not including timber fences.
‣ a wall that is on one owner’s land but is used by 2 (or more) owners to separate their buildings.


The Act also uses the expression ‘party structure’. This could be a wall or floor partition or other structure separating buildings or parts of buildings in different ownership, such as in flats.


At Mercantile Barristers our property law specialists have a particular expertise in advising on all matters involving party and boundary walls and structures. We are regularly instructed to advise on the scope of works governed by the Party Wall Act; the next steps once a party wall notice has been served; assistance with drafting and issuing a notice before work is commenced.


If there is an imminent dispute, our barristers are able to offer alternative dispute resolution services including mediation. Resolution can either be financial or injunctive. Examples include seeking to alter operating hours to prevent nuisance or an injunction to prevent further modification or to stop the offending works entirely pending satisfactory resolution.


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