verdict of Network Rail’s appeal in the Waistell vs Network Rail case
The Japanese Knotweed encroachment case where claimants, homeowners Mr Waistell and Mr Williams, claimed against Network Rail Infrastructure Ltd in private nuisance was reinforced on 3rd July 2018, with the Court of Appeal unanimously dismissing Network Rail’s appeal.
The Court of Appeal found in favour of the two homeowners and agreed that the presence of knotweed on adjoining land constitutes an actionable nuisance if it threatens to cross the boundary, even if it hasn’t yet.
The judgment also clarified that for a nuisance claim to succeed, it was not necessary to prove physical damage to the property. The fact that Knotweed rhizomes are present on the land constitutes an interference with the amenity of the land, that is, the right to use and enjoy it .
Leading treatment firm boss said:
“Network Rail fought the original case in Cardiff County Court thinking they could win and stem the tide of claims against them. They’ve now scored two spectacular own goals and unwittingly opened the flood-gates for thousands of new claims.
“This judgment should put all owners of land infected with knotweed on notice to take proper action to ensure their knotweed does not encroach onto or threaten other property. Those that continue to ignore the effects of their inaction and affect their neighbour’s enjoyment of their property are now fore-warned. The law is clear and substantial damages can be awarded against them.
“It is also worth pointing out that a defence in nuisance is that all reasonable measures are being taken to mitigate the nuisance. A half-hearted or cheap attempt at control is unlikely to meet the ‘reasonable measures’ test.
“This judgment will have far-reaching implications for owners of land affected by Japanese Knotweed. It provides the legal profession with great clarity, which is likely to increase the number of merited claims and settlement of those not worth contesting. This can only be good news for those we would describe as ‘victims of encroachment’ who up to now have had to put up with bully-boy tactics, inaction and worry while their home is blighted by this invasive and damaging weed.”