Page last updated at 16:35 GMT, Tuesday, 18 May 2010 17:35 UK

Neighbours in legal fight over fallen wall in Essex

A couple claiming damages over a collapsed boundary wall were advised to compromise by a judge who granted them leave to appeal in the High Court.

Godfrey and Sandra Stanley are claiming £24,500 in damages after the 150-year-old brick boundary wall at their home in Mistley, Essex, collapsed.

Court cases up to now have cost more than five times the amount claimed.

Roy and Shirley Ann Rawlinson deny work on their yard caused the wall to fall in a storm in October 2001.

A judge at Norwich County Court in January accepted that the works had been carried out before the wall collapsed.

But he said the Stanleys had failed to prove their neighbours had destabilised it and dismissed their claim.

Lord Justice Rix, sitting in London's Appeal Court, granted the Stanleys permission to appeal against that decision.

Plea for mediation

But he made clear his reservations about prolonging a case which has already run up "disastrous" legal costs bills for both families.

Lord Justice Rix accepted breaking up concrete that had been laid up to wall could may have had something to do with its collapse.

He also argued that the judge at Norwich may have been mistaken in weighing up the expert evidence.

"The costs of the action have no doubt overtaken what is at stake and it is a matter of sadness neighbours are disputing this brick wall with one another," he said.

"If there is room for mediation and compromise at this late stage I would urge them to consider that path," the judge concluded.

Mr Stanley, speaking after the hearing, estimated the legal costs of the action to date at between £130,000 and £140,000.

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