Traditionally insurance lawyers will cite the Kew Root survey of 1981 for legal guidance, but gradually things are changing and we think recent case law establishes three precedents:
- The question of reasonable foreseeability. If the tree owner could reasonably foresee the potential for a tree to cause damage but did not manage the situation, then it is liable. But if they did take action to mitigate the risk then liability is reduced or even eliminated
- The amenity value of trees is now being increasingly recognised by the courts, balanced against the risk of subsidence. This can help in the preservation of street trees, reducing council liability, provided the council can demonstrate a good programme of management of street trees, which takes account of risks.
- Expert opinion can often sway a court as to the extent to which subsidence or damage has been caused by trees, thereby reducing, but perhaps not entirely eliminating liability.
Here at SHIFT we have gathered together a number of legal precedents that a lawyer could use to support the case for retaining a tree:
There are also some interesting cases on the London Tree Officers website here >> and on this solicitor’s website>>. And here is a further relevant analysis from Weightmans>>
Visit our blog for regular updates on legal cases>>
SHIFT Action Plan For Haringey
SHIFT has created an action plan to improve the situation in Haringey.