The Property Boundaries (Resolution of Disputes) Bill [HL] is a private member’s bill introduced by the Earl of Lytton (Crossbench). The Bill received its first reading in the House of Lords on 1 June 2015 and is scheduled to receive its second reading on 11 September 2015. The Bill would “make provision for the resolution of disputes concerning the location or placement of the boundaries and private rights of way relating to the title of an estate in land”. In brief, it would require that:
• Where an owner of land wishes to establish the position of a boundary or private right of way the land owner should serve notice, accompanied by a plan, on the adjoining owner of the land (or user of a private right of way) establishing the proposed line of the property boundary or private right of way (clause 2). If the adjoining land owner does not specifically consent to that contained in the notice then a ‘dispute’ is deemed to have arisen. Provision as to how the notice should be served is contained in clause 6 of the Bill.
• Where a ‘dispute’ arises, then both parties shall either select one “agreed surveyor”, or each party shall select one surveyor who will then jointly select a third surveyor (clause 5). One or more of the surveyors selected (depending on the scenario) would then serve on the parties an award setting out their conclusions as to the dispute, and also setting out the costs of the matter and who should pay them.
• The surveyors’ findings would be considered conclusive (clause 5(15)), and could only be challenged if an appeal was made within 28 days to the Technology and Construction Court (clause 5(16)). Within 28 days after expiry of the appeal period, the owner of the land would be required to submit the award to the Land Registry (clause 5(17)).
The Bill contains provisions setting out the rights of entry of surveyors (making it an offence not to reasonably allow access) and how the proposed legislation would apply to disputes already in progress. It would also require the Secretary of State to publish and maintain a Code of Practice as to the form and manner in which notices or plans must be served under the legislation.