Westminster Council felled by Beachcrofts

Beachcroft Wansbro-ughs last week successfully defeated an appeal by Westminster City Council to the House of Lords, arising out of the principles of recoverable loss in nuisance.
The Lords ruled that local authorities must act quickly on residential complaints or risk harsher treatment in the courts.
Beachcrofts partner Rachel Bolt, who heads the firm's London household property recovery unit, said: “This judgment is the latest in a whole series where local authorities and their insurers have had to pay a high price for the inadequate maintenance of pavement trees.”
The case, between the council and the leaseholders of Delaware Mansions in Maida Vale, began in 1992, when residents and their insurers, Ecclesiastical Insurance Group, asked the council to remove a pavement tree that was causing subsidence to their building. Roots from the tree sucked out moisture from the clay soil beneath the adjacent mansion blocks in Delaware Road, causing the mansion blocks to drop and crack. The cost of structural repair, which will now be borne by the council, has risen from £14,000 when the complaint was first made 10 years ago to more than £570,000.
“If the City took the tree out when they were first asked, it would have cost them a lot less,” said Bolt.
Michael Pooles QC from 4 Paper Buildings appeared for Delaware, and Vizard Oldham partner John Morrell, for the City of Westminster, instructed Richard Mawrey QC from 2 Harcourt Buildings, the chambers of Roger Henderson QC.