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15 Mar 2024 < Back

Landmark Japanese Knotweed appeal

On 27 February, the Supreme Court heard a landmark Japanese Knotweed case with Bridgend Council’s effort to appeal the Court of Appeal’s previous ruling against them from a year earlier. 

Case summary

This case had the potential to impact the invasive weed sector. The main focus for the Supreme Court was evaluating causation, with Bridgend arguing that since Knotweed encroached before RICS guidance in 2012, they couldn't have known about the risks or legally caused damage to the adjacent homeowner. The claimant however, successfully argued that despite the RICS guidance setting Bridgend's legal duty to address Knotweed, their delay in treatment prolonged the impact on the Claimant beyond what was acceptable.

This particular case had the potential to impact the invasive weed sector. The issue for the Supreme Court to judge is one of causation, whereby Bridgend say that because Knotweed encroached from its land before the RICS produced its guidance in 2012, it could not have known of the property risks it posed, and therefore it could not have legally caused any damage to the Claimant, who is an adjacent homeowner.

The claimant however, successfully argued that despite the date of the RICS guidance setting when Bridgend had a legal duty to deal with the Knotweed, its delay in treating it caused a continuing impact on the Claimant that was longer than it ought to have been. 

What this may mean for future cases

The damage costs claimed are surprisingly low. However, the precedent set by the Supreme Court’s judgement will likely have important implications for current and future cases for Knotweed encroached before 2012 or where a defendant has been slow to treat it. 

As the issues of the appeal are matters of law, PCA members involved in expert witness work shouldn’t be directly affected. However, it is useful for all invasive weed specialists to know the legal tests that solicitors might exploit within Knotweed litigation cases.

Going forward

We will keep an eye out for the judge's final decision and statement in the weeks to come. In the meantime, you can read about the case by clicking the button below.

Read more

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