Last edited 06 Jan 2021

Trespass in buildings design and construction

In its widest legal sense, trespass is the interference of a person’s right to the security of their body, property or land.

Trespass in construction usually refers to intrusion upon land in the possession of another person without permission or right (this is as opposed to trespass to the person).

Trespass can be by a person on the land, or by placing or leaving something on (or over) the land, although if materials pass onto the other persons land as a consequence of some action for which the defendant has a right, then this is a nuisance rather than trespass.

Trespass includes items such as cranes or scaffolding that might oversail adjacent property.

The tort of trespass is actionable even if no damage is suffered. Trespass can be restrained by injunction, and if losses are caused, damages are recoverable.

Construction often necessitate accessing the land of a neighbour. This must be done with permission (unless a right exists) which will usually be in the form of a temporary licence, perhaps in return for payment. However, even where someone is lawfully on land, they may still commit trespass if they exceed their rights or the permission that has been granted.

There will only be a criminal liability if there are aggravating circumstances such as criminal damage.

NB: The Party Wall Act allows access to adjoining property for the purposes of carrying out works under the Act whether or not the adjoining owner gives permission, however they must be given 14 days notice.

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