David Hart QC and Jessica Elliott have been in the Court of Appeal, arguing that property owners have no basis for a claim in nuisance for the presence of Japanese Knotweed on Network Rail’s adjoining land. There had been no physical damage to the properties concerned. The bungalows, their foundations, and the soil beneath those foundations were not physically affected by the encroaching roots. The roots did not cause damage for the purposes of a claim in nuisance for damages.
In the court below, the judge had found Network Rail liable for failing to deal with the knotweed sufficiently once they became aware of the risks it presented. The property owners were awarded damages including diminution in value of their properties. The judge relied on the caution of lenders about granting mortgages in respect of properties within 7m of existing Knotweed.
The Court of Appeal heard that this judgment would have very considerable implications for Network Rail if allowed to stand.
On 13 June, the Master of the Rolls Sir Terence Etherton, Lady Justice Sharp and Lord Justice Leggatt reserved judgment.
David and Jessica were instructed by Katherine Heath of BLM.
For a news report, see Wales Online.