‘Mutinous’ Neighbours Punished for Ignoring Court Demolition Order
Court orders are rarely welcomed by those who receive them, but the consequences of ignoring them can be extremely serious. In the context of a neighbours’ dispute, a couple were punished by a judge for their ‘mutinous refusal’ to obey an order requiring them to demolish their garage wall.
The couple’s neighbour had obtained the order against them on the basis that the wall encroached onto her land. Time for compliance had twice been extended but, three years after the order was made, the wall remained standing and the couple had made no meaningful attempt to do as they were told. In those circumstances, their neighbour launched proceedings to have them committed to prison for contempt of court.
The couple argued that the wall could not be demolished safely and that the work would risk damaging their neighbour’s own property. In finding their contempt proved, however, the judge found that their neighbour had been very patient and that their disobedience was deliberate. Sentencing of the couple was deferred, but the options open to the judge included a fine or maximum two-year jail terms.