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COUPLE WINS CLAIM AGAINST COUNCIL FOR CUTTING TREES THAT DAMAGED HOUSE

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An Ealing couple have triumphed in a key Appeal Court fight in their bid to win£66,000 compensation from the Ealin...
An Ealing couple have triumphed in a key Appeal Court fight in their bid to win £66,000 compensation from the Ealing LBC for the damage allegedly caused to their home by trees owned by the authority.

Lords Justices Chadwick and Buxton at the Appeal Court in London allowed their appeal against central London county court's dismissal of their claim last May, and ordered the county court to rehear the case.

Rupert and Suzanne St. John Loftus-Brigham claimed that three lime trees and a plane tree, which the council cut down in 1999, had been the cause of the movement 'en masse' of their house. As a result, the court was told, they had incurred substantial expenses for the cost of repair and for alternative accommodation whilst the repairs were carried out.

However, in the county court the judge dismissed their claim on the basis that there was a 'real possibility that a range of vegetation contributed to a greater or lesser degree to what occurred' and that the claimants 'needed to show that the defendant's trees were probably the dominant cause'.

Challenging the judge's finding in the Court of Appeal earlier this month, Deborah Taylor, counsel for the claimants, said 'having found that there was a real possibility of a range of vegetation contributing to a greater or lesser degree to what occurred, he failed to consider whether each should be discarded as a cause or whether two or more jointly contributed to the damage'.

Allowing the couple's appeal, Lord Justice Chadwick said: 'We are satisfied that the judge erred in his approach to the question of whether the tree roots, in law, caused the damage complained of.

'The question that he should have asked himself was: whether desiccation from the tree roots materially contributed to the damage. His judgement therefore cannot stand.'

STRAND NEWS SERVICE

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