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Uncertainty on the Line of Junction
The esoteric term ‘Line of Junction’, in Section 1 of the Party Wall etc. Act 1996 (‘the Act’) has been the subject of much debate between party wall surveyors and lawyers.1 The first half of this paper considers two topics in the context of a building owner proposing to construct a wall entirely on his/her own land: first, the use of the phrase ‘Line of Junction’; and second, what qualifies as building on the Line of Junction? Building a wall entirely on the land of the building owner, albeit up to the Line of Junction, would appear less problematic than constructing a new wall astride the boundary line. Indeed, the second part of this paper will describe the benefits to both the building owner and the adjoining owner in the service of an appropriate notice under the Act to facilitate this; some potential difficulties are also identified. The drafting of Section 1 has produced a self-contradictory concept of a wall which is built on the boundary, and yet at the same time is placed wholly on the land of one owner. To make sense of the concept, it is necessary to consider the definition of terms used in sub-section 1(1); this paper will show that seeking the definition of terms used in the Act is not that simple. There is also some confusion concerning footings or foundations excavated on the boundary line: should they be considered as part of the wall built at the Line of Junction and is there an automatic right to place them on the land of the adjoining owner?
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Stephen Cornish MA, BSc, FRICS, FFPWS is a Chartered Building Surveyor, co-founder of Woodward Chartered Surveyors and is a director of the Faculty of Party Wall Surveyors. He lectures and writes on many aspects of the Party Wall Act and organises forums on this discipline around the UK.