Judge begs woman to abandon £100,000 case over garden fence

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A woman has brought an “obsessive” case against her neighbour over a garden fence, racking up £100,000 in legal bills in the process. Norma Yozin-Smith, 73, was left furious as she claimed the fence located between her home and neighbours Anthony and Julie Alexander encroached on her garden space when it was put up.  She also said that the fence, between the two homes in Barnet, North London, partitioned her trees and shrubs. Ms Yozin-Smith even got a surveyor to map out boundary lines showing where the border between the two properties was.

But during a trial at Central London County Court, Judge Alan Johns dismissed Ms Yozin-Smith’s case and rejected the boundaries she had laid out.

He also begged the pensioner to give up the case after she spent over £100,000 pursuing it.

Judge Johns, giving his ruling, said: “All domestic boundary disputes are regrettable, but this one is more regrettable than most.

“It continues despite having already been resolved by a boundary agreement as long as 15 years ago when both sides agreed to be bound by the determination of their shared boundary by a surveyor – who set out his views on the boundary in a report on 9 February, 2007, revised by a letter on February 15.

“It seems to me that Mrs Yozin-Smith has long been obsessed with this boundary. It’s an obsession which has brought misery to her as well as to her neighbours.

“I implore her to give it up and to move on from it for her own good, as well as for the good of the Alexanders.”

Dismissing the boundaries that Ms Yozin-Smith had argued for, the judge added: “I reject entirely her case that the line marked out on the ground failed to reflect the report of 9th February.

“But while I have rejected her case on the position of the boundary, I consider it important that a declaration should be made to bring certainty.

“It follows that the agreed boundary line is represented by the line marked on the surveyor’s digital plan.

“I will so declare and ask that Mrs Yozin-Smith abides by that decision.”

Ms Yozin-Smith has taken legal action against her neighbours in the past. She complained about alleged leaks coming from the Alexanders’ swimming pool, but this claim was “struck-out” in 2021.

The long-running tension between the neighbours started in 2002 when both households clashed over the dividing point between their gardens.

In 2007, they commissioned a quantity surveyor to try and settle the dispute. After this, the Alexanders built their fence.

The Alexanders thought this would end the disagreement, but Ms Yozin-Smith continued suing as she felt the final boundary did not match the recommendations of the surveyor.

But in court, the Alexanders insisted they had “bent over backwards” to accommodate their neighbour.

Judge John did find that part of the fence was leaning into Ms Yozin-Smith’s garden and was therefore a “nuisance”.

He added that Ms Yozin-Smith was entitled to a modest sum in compensation.

The judge added: “I find that there is a nuisance by encroachment to the extent of half the width of some of the posts.

“I have in mind an award of £500.”

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