Neighbours' Dispute

A neighbours’ dispute had been occurring between John*, who owned a house adjoining a public right of way, and Frank*, who was the son of the owner of a plot of land opposite John’s house, for many years. They had often disputed the ownership, right to alter, and usage of the public right of way which both of their properties were situated on. 

John believed that Frank had been driving over the grass verge of the pathway which he maintained, and installed a CCTV camera to see if he could capture the damage on camera. Frank became irritated at what he saw as another example of John trying to exert his ownership of the land, and knocked down and smashed the CCTV camera. 

Both John and Frank believed that they were in the right; John believed that there was an expectation for him to maintain the grass on his side of the pathway, so he had installed posts and a tarmac section to prevent vehicles from driving on the grass. Frank disagreed, and said that the grass portion of the pathway should have been maintained by grass cutting and hedge trimming only. Frank believed that John had damaged the pathway by adding posts and tarmac. 

However, both John and Frank agreed that the damage to the camera was a symptom of their long-standing dispute, and that this needed to be addressed. 

John was keen to take part in Restorative Justice, so an appointment was arranged at his home with a trained Restorative Justice practitioner and a trained and experienced volunteer Restorative Justice practitioner. With John’s agreement, Frank was contacted and arrangements were made to meet with Frank after the appointment with John. 

During the initial meeting, Restorative Justice was explained to both parties; they were shown the various options for restorative communication, and consent and wellbeing paperwork was completed. Several appointments were held with both parties, where risk assessments were carried out to ensure that any potential risks were identified, in order to prevent any chance of further harm. 

At the beginning of the intervention, John and his wife were very distressed by the impact of the ongoing dispute, and were tearful during their initial meeting. They said that their time spent at home had been “ruined” as they were waiting for the next incident to take place. Frank was frustrated, and felt adamantly that their situation couldn’t progress until John removed the items he had installed to protect the grass verge. Frank believed that he had the right to drive over the grass. 

The individual meetings with John and Frank were used to manage expectations, carry out shuttle mediation, and have restorative conversations. All parties eventually agreed that their case was not suitable for a restorative conference, and both John and Frank agreed that the legal issues relating to the disputed land could not be resolved informally. 

Following restorative conversations over an extended period of time, Frank stopped driving on the grass verge, which stopped further damage and allowed the grass and foliage to grow. This was a positive result for John and his wife, who felt that now the damage had stopped, they were able to enjoy peace and tranquility in their home. John and his wife felt that taking part in restorative justice had had such a positive outcome for them, that they wrote to Restorative Solutions to express their appreciation for our work. 

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