Get in Touch Menu

Japanese knotweed found to cause ‘loss of amenity’ for homeowners in landmark ruling

06 July 2018

The Court of Appeal recently ruled on a claim brought by two South Wales’ homeowners against Network Rail because the company had allowed Japanese knotweed to invade their properties.

The company had appealed against an earlier decision that had awarded compensation to the claimant homeowners on the basis that their properties had been devalued by the presence of the knotweed. Mr Recorder Grubb had decided that the efforts made by the company to control the knotweed had been inadequate. As the plant caused a nuisance to the two homeowners, they were entitled to damages to cover the cost of an effective treatment plan, and for loss of value based on how the property values would be affected, even after the treatment plan had been completed.

Sir Terence Etherton, the Master of the Rolls and  the court’s most senior judge, gave judgment and decided that the judge had gone too far by saying that the homeowners were entitled to damages for loss in value in the way the judge had said.

However, he went on to say that because the encroachment on their land by the knotweed was a nuisance, the homeowners didn’t have to show that the properties had been actually damaged. He explained that the presence of the knotweed alone was an interference with their use and enjoyment of the land, and that they were entitled to damages.

In upholding the original decision, but for different reasons, the Master of the Rolls referred to established principles and in doing so gave guidance on how homeowners might approach claims like this in future.

The case has obvious potential repercussions and we must wait to see if it is appealed to the Supreme Court. It begs the question, what is the difference between the diminution of value in a sale price, and the damages for loss of amenity caused by the presence of the knotweed?

The issues raised by this case may, like the knotweed, not go away that easily.

Partner Nick Cox, a practitioner with over 30 years’ experience, is rated by independent legal directory Chambers for his property litigation expertise. He specialises in contentious landlord and tenant work and is an experienced civil and commercial mediator. 

We're here to help
Disclaimer: All legal information is correct at the time of publication but please be aware that laws may change over time. This article contains general legal information but should not be relied upon as legal advice. Please seek professional legal advice about your specific situation - contact us; we’d be delighted to help.
Nick Cox LLB (Hons)
Consultant, solicitor
View profile
Nick Cox
Related services
Share this article
Resources to help

Related articles

Unearthing the implicit duty of cooperation in commercial contracts


In the world of business, contracts are the bedrock upon which deals are built. These carefully crafted documents are a testament to the mutual understanding between parties, outlining their respective…

Richard Holland BA (Hons)
Senior associate, solicitor

Why sole director companies should check articles of association


A recent case has highlighted the importance of ensuring a company is incorporated with carefully drafted articles of association, if there is only one director. All limited companies must have…

Helen Howes LLM
Senior associate, solicitor

SCCs: New rules governing cross-border data transfers and data exchanges from the EU and EEA

GDPR & data protection

This September brings change to the use of standard contractual clauses (SCCs) governing data transfers from the EU and EEA. In June this year, the European Commission published two sets…

Kym Fletcher LLB (Hons) Euro
Consultant, solicitor
Contact us