Parties be Warned: Disobey Court Orders at your Peril

A person’s home is their castle and one which will be defended fearlessly. It therefore tends to follow that a homeowner will pretty much do anything to protect their home, and their rights to use and enjoy it, no matter what the cost.

Head of Dispute Resolution Glyn Staves, a Senior Partner and Deputy District Judge alongside Rhiannon Murphy, Trainee Solicitor recently delivered an excellent result for a client in an ongoing case involving the refusal by his neighbours to allow him access over and along the right of way that serviced his property.

Our client originally brought a claim against his neighbours to obtain the benefit of an injunction to prevent them from interfering with his right to access the rear of his property.  After months of the neighbours failing to engage with the court and all relevant hearings, His Honour Judge Davis-White QC, sitting at the High Court in Leeds, in accordance with the importance of upholding the rule of law in terms of requiring persons subject to court order to obey them, found the neighbours in contempt of court.  For a copy of the Judgment made by His Honour Judge Davis-White QC click here.

Each neighbour was initially sentenced for a period of a six-months, suspended for a period of one month to allow them one final opportunity to comply with the terms of the previous orders made by the court.

The neighbours still did not comply resulting in each of them being committed to serve their six-month sentence in separate prisons.

After serving almost 3 months of their sentence, each neighbour made an application to purge their contempt and promised to comply with the terms of the previous orders to allow our client access to his right of way. The Judge gave a strict warning to the neighbours not to interfere with our client’s right of access again, otherwise they would be sent straight back to prison to serve the remainder of the term of their sentence.

The committal can be found by clicking here

The above case serves as an important reminder of the court’s powers and willingness to impose serious sanctions.  The neighbours did not fully appreciate the consequences of their actions until it was too late.

Access or right of way disputes are a common occurrence between neighbours, but the rules and laws surrounding rights of way can be complicated to understand. If you want advice concerning a boundary or right of way dispute with a neighbour, then please contact our expert Dispute Resolution team on 01226 210000 or email