Legal Judgements on Trees
Legal Judgements on Trees
High Profile Tree Related Court Cases - Tree Law -Expert Witness
Tree Leaves

Tree Related Court Cases and Legal Precedents

Tree Law is rather an interesting and complex field.

Further down on the page we have listed some significant court cases which have helped to shape what the legal boundaries are in relation to Tree Law. They make fascinating reading and one thing is very apparent - reports and surveys by a fully experienced and qualified arboriculturist are essential to the outcome of any court case. One of our specialist services is as an Expert Witness - useful even if a case does not proceed to court

We can act as an Expert Witness and have considerable specialist knowledge.
  • Tree Related Subsidence Damage
  • Death caused by falling Trees or Branches
  • Personal Injury or damage to Property
  • Breach of Tree Protection Orders
  • Breach of Conditional Planning Permission
  • Boundary /Disputes between neighbours
  • Planning Appeals, Applications and Permission
  • High Hedge Problems
  • Insurance and Loss Adjusters
  • Mortgage Reports

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Falling Branch Personal Injury Claim

Atkins V Scott Judgement

This case involved a collision between a motorist and a fallen oak tree branch. The motorist made a claim against the tree owner for damages. Judgement was awarded in favour of the tree owner.

The owner of the oak tree proved that his tree population was inspected regularly and the court he was not liable for damages that were caused by an act of God

Atkins V Scott PDF

Tree Subsidence Claim

Berent V Islington Council

The Court of Appeal ruled that both Islington Council and the Housing Association could not reasonably be expected to foresee that their trees might pose 'a real risk' of causing subsidence.

Both had satisfied their duty to eliminate or minimise potential nuisance and could not be held liable for prior damage as they had acted reasonably.

Berent V Islington Council PDF

Death by Falling Tree Branch

Bowens V National Trust

A group of children were in woodland owned by the National Trust, in the grounds of Felbrigg Hall in north Norfolk. A large branch fell from a beech tree and struck the children, killing one and injuring three others.

The court found that there was no negligence or breach of duty by the National Trust as the tree had been regularly inspected and the accident could not have been forseen.

Bowens V National Trust PDF

Tree Root Subsidence

Several Plane and Lime Trees owned by Ealing Council were growing on the street outside the claimants house. The house was also covered in climbing plants and creepers owned by the claimant.

The was considerable subsidence. The structural engineers agreed that it was caused by soil desiccation due to vegetation. Loftus-Brigham claimed that the local authority trees were at fault. The local authority blamed the creepers....... read on

Loftus Brigham V Ealing Council

Death by Falling Oak Tree Branch

The claim concerned a tragic fatal accident when a large oak tree branch fell on an individual while unloading bicycles his car in a Surrey car park.

The trial judge noted that the council did not have an adequate system of inspection, but the claim failed and the Defendant was not liable to compensate the Claimant, because the defect in the tree would not have been detected even if there had been a reasonable system of inspection in place.

Micklewright V Surrey Council

Personal Injury & Damaged Property

Selwyn Smith V Gomples

The catastrophic demise of an Austrian Pine resulted not only in serious personal injury to a neighbour, but also significant damage to property and contents of the neighbours garage.

Failure of the Pine was attributed to Brown Rot (Phaeolus schweinitzii). The Judgement makes fascinating reading.

Smith V Gomples Judgement

Developers & Breach of TPOs

Woking Crown Court

Two developers were fined at Woking Magistrates’ Court for breaching Tree Preservation Orders (TPOs).

One was fined for wilful damage to two trees on a construction site and the other developer was fined over £10,000 for cutting down 5 trees and causing wilful damage to another nine

TPO Breach

Fallen Tree on Road

This case involved a motorcyclist colliding with a fallen tree. He made a successful claim against the tree owners for damages.

The tree was multi-stemmed, had included bark within its fork and also had a fungal bracket growing below it. An experienced arboriculturist would have identified the hazardous nature of the tree and ordered its removal. However, the defendants inadequate inspection regime failed to identify it.

Poll V Bartholomew

Subsidence Damage - Poplar Trees

Poplar trees had given rise to several claims against the Bexley Council by property owners In the circumstances, the court considered that it was “reasonably foreseeable” that the Poplar trees would cause damage to other properties in the vicinity from that time.

The Council ought therefore, to have taken appropriate measures to prevent such damage. Having failed to do so they were held liable.

Robbins V Bexley Council

Leasehold/Freehold Subsidence

Kamenou V Dodson

An interesting legal case involving a freehold residence bringing action against the neighbouring leasehold flats for root subsidence damage.

Building damage by subsidence caused by a number of trees, namely, a large sycamore tree, fruit trees and a black poplar tree on the neighbouring property.

Kamenou V Dodson

Council Trees Caused Subsidence

There were two trees situated on the road outside the claimant’s premises. The roots of which encroached on the claimant’s property and the abstraction of moisture from the ground caused by the roots led to subsidence of the property.

Portsmouth City Council were for responsible for maintaining the trees and the court ruled that they had to pay damages.

Jones V Portsmouth Council

Root Damage by a TPO Tree

This legal case concerns whether a protected tree on neighbouring land causing subsidence damage to a house could be felled despite its protection by a Tree Preservation Order (TPO). Section 198(6)(b) of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990 states that a TPO shall not apply to prevent "the cutting down, uprooting, topping or lopping of any trees …so far as may be necessary for the prevention or abatement of a nuisance".

Perrin V Northampton Council

Oak Root Subsidence with TPO

Beyers V Secretary of State

A fascinating court case concerning an Oak Tree which had a Tree Protection Order - TPO, which was causing building on

Beyers V Secretary of State

Tree Root Subsidence Claim

Raphael V Brent Council

A rather controversial court case involving an initial broken drain which may or may not have caused accelerated root growth leading to building subsidence.

Raphael V Brent Council

Tree Root Damage

Park V Swindon Council

This case involves a claim for subsidence damages from the effects of tree roots by trees on adjoining park land managed by the council.

Park V Swindon Council

Compulsory Purchase of Land

Linsay V Highways Agency

Compulsory purchase of woodland next to a motorway.The trees form a screen from the motorway Beyondd which was land with planning permission for a dwelling.

Compensation paid for the amenity value of trees by reference to 'Helliwell system' and also for the amount of time spent on claim - compensation was awarded at £26,600.

Linsay V Highways Agency

Dangerous Trees Close to Property


This case concerns the issue of mature trees, allegedly to close to a property, which were considered to be dangerous and an application was made to the local council to have them removed.

Permission was refused and a lengthy dispute entailed, finally being settled in court.

Mooney V West Lindsay Council

Subsidence Not Proved

Wright v Horsham Council

Claim for compensation for cost of underpinning to a property following refusal of consent to fell trees protected by a tree preservation order.

Claim contested on grounds of causation. Question arose whether underpinning required in any event. Compensation was awarded

Wright V Horsham Council

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