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Former Islington mayor takes council to court

PUBLISHED: 12:42 02 April 2012

Anna Berent

Anna Berent

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»An 82-year-old former Islington mayor is fighting the Town Hall over damage to her home said to be caused by tree roots and subsidence.

Anna Berent, who represented Mildmay Ward for the Lib Dems for eight years and was elected mayor in 2009, wants £100,000 from Islington Council and housing association Family Mosaic for damage to her home in Highbury New Park, Highbury.

In 2003 the roots of three trees owned by the council and Family Mosaic grew under her house, damaging the foundations and taking moisture from the soil, it is said.

She suffered “great anxiety” when cracks appeared in her walls and had to have emergency repairs, the High Court was told last year.

A judge awarded her £5,000 damages and said a “gross delay” in investigating the claim meant she didn’t know what the cause was until 2010.

Surprising

But Mrs Berent has now progressed the case to the Court of Appeal in what is considered a test case defining the responsibilities of those who own trees that damage other people’s property.

Daniel Crowley, representing Mrs Berent, said: “The logical consequences of the judge’s findings – which obviously have wider implications for tree management generally and tree root subsidence litigation in particular – is that the risk from London plane trees of this size on clay sub-soils in close proximity to a house on shallow foundations is to be borne by the innocent householder and not the tree owner.

“That is a surprising conclusion given that the defendants control their trees and it is the defendants’ tree roots that encroached onto Mrs Berent’s land and caused the damage.”

Mr Crowley said the damage must have been foreseeable to the council as its trees had caused damage to the home in 1999.

The appeal was heard by Lord Justice Mummery, Lord Justice Tomlinson and Lord Justice Kitchin. Judgement was reserved until a later date.


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