Landmark decision sprouts from Japanese Knotweed claim
A recent victory in the case Davies v Bridgend County Borough Council 2023 has overturned a decision by the lower courts where diminution of value due to Japanese Knotweed was considered an irrecoverable economic loss.
Details of the Case
The case concerned a property owner, Mr Davies who purchased a property in Wales in 2004 for investment purposes. In 2017 Mr Davies became aware that the plant Japanese Knotweed was invading his property. It transpired that the council had previously become aware in 2013 but did not take action until 2018.
When the case was first brought to court, the district judge cited the case of Williams v Network Rail (2018) and dismissed Mr Davies claim on the basis that residual diminution as pure economic loss is irrecoverable since the purpose of the tort of nuisance is not to protect the value of the property as a financial asset.
Mr Davies appealed but the decision was again upheld. However, he was granted permission for a second appeal and this time he was successful. The Court of Appeal interpretated the case of Williams differently and found the two cases to be distinguishable. They held that the value of Mr Davies’ property was diminished as a result of an interference with quiet enjoyment or amenity due to the significant physical encroachment of Japanese Knotweed from the council’s land onto Mr Davies’ land and therefore damages in nuisance for diminution in value of the property was recoverable.
Mr Davies was awarded £4,900.00 for the residual diminution in value to his property.
“It is important to note that although Davies was determined on facts, the Court of Appeal’s decision certainly provides a warning to landowners that they may find themselves liable for losses previously thought to be irrecoverable where the neighbouring landowner can prove encroachment is non-trivial leading to their land’s amenity value becoming diminished. It is possible that cases concerning encroachment of Japanese Knotweed or Bamboo may start to rise as a result of this decision. ”