Justice for couple ordered to knock down their home

Stuart Duffield and Lindsay Cavanagh lived in a beautiful 18th Century barn conversion but in April 2013, the unthinkable happened. A drunk driver ploughed his vehicle into the side of their home at high speed and the damage to the house was so severe that it needed to be supported by scaffolding, extending into the road and forcing its closure.

The council ordered the couple to knock down their house so the road could be reopened

Far from being sympathetic to the couple’s plight, their local authority were so focussed on getting the road reopened that they took Stuart and Lindsay to Preston Magistrates Court. South Ribble Borough Council argued that the Building Act 1984 allowed them to deal with any building in a dangerous condition, even if it was someone’s home. They asked for an order to partly demolish the house.

Luckily, Civil Litigation specialist Theresa Fenton, from Birchall Blackburn Law, was on hand to help Stuart and Lindsay to fight their corner.  The Buildings Act, which the local authority was relying upon, did not define the word “dangerous”. With Theresa’s help, the couple maintained that the building was safe and that they could not do anything about the road closure until they had sorted out repairs with their insurance company.

The council backed down at the final hour

On the morning of the court case, the council conceded that the building didn’t need to be demolished. Stuart Duffield explained his relief at the outcome:

“This was such a stressful time for us, it felt like we were being bullied by the council. It was unreasonable for them to expect us to knock down our home while our insurance claim was pending. We were delighted with the outcome and we couldn’t have done it without Theresa supporting us throughout the process and arguing our case for us.”

Senior solicitor Theresa Fenton, who specialises in Civil Litigation and Insolvency, has been helping people in difficult cases like this for over 15 years.  She said:

“The Local Authority was trying to force Stuart and Lindsay to demolish their beautiful home when they were not legally obliged to do so. I am so pleased that they eventually saw sense and did the right thing, allowing the couple to stay in their home.”

As litigation specialists, we see many people who are being taken to court, often with serious consequences and through no fault of their own.  We are here to take on your case and support you through a process that can be stressful and confusing.  Whilst being sensitive to the details of your case, you can rely on us to fight your corner comprehensively.

For straightforward advice and to learn more about your options, please get in touch with our friendly Civil Litigation team on 0800 614 722.