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UK law

My neighbor has very long hedge evergreen trees, blocking the sun to my house and lots of its dried leaves cover my garden, few neighbors around are also affected by these trees.

I spoke to my neighbor, and he doesn't seem to be willing to pay to cut them.

The council is asking for high fees to investigate and get involved, as high as the cost of cutting probably.

I was wondering, if I hire a solicitor and go to court and win the case and force my neighbor to cut the tress, does the court also rule for my neighbor to pay for my legal expenses?

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    What does your local ordinance state about trees? I know most places impose a maximum height on fences and other man-made structures like sheds but trees are usually free to grow as they please. If you're part of something similar to an HOA then you should check their rules.
    – MonkeyZeus
    Nov 3, 2022 at 14:25
  • Have you followed all the guidance given at Citizens Advice? citizensadvice.org.uk/housing/problems-where-you-live/…
    – Showsni
    Nov 3, 2022 at 14:27
  • @MonkeyZeus my local council doesn't set a limit on the height, but would intervene if they are dangerous or a major block to sun, but for a high fees
    – Mocas
    Nov 3, 2022 at 14:33
  • @Showsni Yes. My neighbor doesn't seem to be willing to pay to cut them. The page mentions a solicitor but expensive, will I recover these costs if I win the case according to UK law?
    – Mocas
    Nov 3, 2022 at 14:34
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    Sounds about right, frivolous lawsuits usually cost more money than they're worth.
    – MonkeyZeus
    Nov 3, 2022 at 15:19

1 Answer 1

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Cost recovery law is complex and there is no simple "yes" or "no" answer to your question. In the County Court, High Court, and Court of Appeal (Civil Division), the governing law is found in the Civil Procedure Rules. A good starting point is Part 44 (general rules about costs) and in particular Rule 44.2 which provides:

(1) The court has discretion as to –

(a) whether costs are payable by one party to another;

(b) the amount of those costs; and

(c) when they are to be paid.

(2) If the court decides to make an order about costs –

(a) the general rule is that the unsuccessful party will be ordered to pay the costs of the successful party; but

(b) the court may make a different order.

Whether or not you can recover costs (and how much) depends on many factors. See for example Rule 44.4 which lists (among others) the following factors:

  • Whether the costs are proportionate.
  • Whether the costs are reasonably incurred.
  • Whether the costs are reasonable in amount.
  • The conduct of the parties including efforts made to settle.
  • The value of the case.
  • The importance of the matter to the parties.
  • The complexity of the case.
  • Time spent on the case.

Settlement negotiations can also have specific cost implications, particularly if the formal Part 36 procedure is followed:

  • Rule 36.13 provides that a claimant can generally recover costs up to the point at which a Part 36 offer is accepted.

  • Rule 36.17 provides for cost consequences for a party who refuses a Part 36 offer and subsequently fails to achieve a better outcome in the proceedings.

Note that it is fairly common to be unable to recover all your costs even if you obtain a costs order in your favour.

For some types of case, you will generally be unable to recover costs at all, or only very limited costs. This applies to e.g. a case allocated to the Small Claims Track, pursuant to Rule 27.14 and also to many types of Tribunal cases.

Questions asking for specific legal advice are off-topic on this site. If you want to understand the cost implications for your specific scenario, your best bet would be to find a solicitor who will provide an initial free consultation, and then raise the issue of costs during that consultation. Be warned however that you will be unlikely to be given a definitive answer on whether you will recover costs, for the reasons set out above.

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