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David Nicholls acting pro bono in the Court of Appeal in neighbour dispute about gas meters

DATE: 14 Aug 2017

On Friday 11 August 2017, the Court of Appeal handed down judgment in the case of Dickinson v Cassillas [2017] EWCA Civ 1254.  David Nicholls represented Mr & Mrs Dickinson on the appeal on a pro bono basis.

The case has received wide press coverage, largely because it concerned feuding neighbours.  Mr & Mrs Dickinson’s house and driveway are adjacent to their neighbour’s house so that the flank wall of the neighbour’s house forms the boundary between the two properties.  The neighbour claimed a right to come onto Mr & Mrs Dickinson’s driveway in order to inspect and maintain her flank wall and to read her gas and electricity meters.  The Dickinsons considered this would be a trespass and an interference with their rights as property owners.  Both sides considered the other to be a ‘neighbour from hell’ and Ms Cassillas had not been able to have her gas and electricity meters read for over a decade.

The case turned on the construction of a deed of grant made at the time the properties were first sold.  The Court of Appeal concluded that the right to ‘maintain’ included the right to inspect the flank wall, notwithstanding the absence of the word ‘inspect’ from the right in question, but its inclusion elsewhere in the deed.  The Court considered that the deed of grant necessarily included an implied right for Ms Casillas to read the meters on the basis that, in light of the terms of the grant and the facts known to the parties at the time of the grant, such a right would have been regarded as reasonably necessary or obvious to the parties.  Whether these rights had been substantially interfered with was a question of fact for the trial judge for which there was no basis for interfering.

The judgment can be found here.