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Liaquat and Liphe Ali from Edgware ordered to pay £15,500 over wheelie bin dispute with neighbour
A couple who have been in a drawn-out dispute for using a wheelie bin in their shared driveway have been ordered to pay more than £15,500 in legal fees.
Liaquat and Liphe Ali were given the bill at a costs hearing at the High Court following the three-year argument with their next door neighbour, Iqban Suleman.
Mr Suleman began a civil action in 2011 when he claimed the couple’s bin was blocking access to the driveway they share in Brook Avenue, Edgware.
Mr Ali, who has lived in the property with his wife and two sons for 13 years, said the battle took over his family’s life.
Speaking to the Times Series, the 50-year-old said: “It’s been stressful for my wife and children. When my wife and I speak about it at home the children get very upset.
“Waking up every morning we would always anticipate the post with dread and horror, hoping it wouldn’t be another solicitor’s letter.”
The hearing was thrown out at Barnet County Court last year when it was agreed both parties must not block the alleyway between their semi-detached houses with their wheelie bins, and that the Alis should pay Mr Suleman’s legal costs.
At the High Court on Tuesday, Mr Suleman’s solicitors from Lyons Davidson initially asked for £20,000, as well as more than £17,100 for the day’s court session.
This was reduced to a total sum of £15,733, which the Alis have been given just 14 days to pay.
Mr Ali, a self-employed IT consultant, said: “My wife burst out crying and said ‘my God we’ll be selling our house’.
“I was completely numb. It just felt completely surreal and it still hasn’t really sunk in. I’m still hoping something can be done to resolve it. It’s completely outrageous.
“It’s come at a really bad time – it’s not something you want to have on your mind over Christmas.”
The couple are considering remortgaging their house to pay off the fee.
Mr Ali has also warned of the potential danger of copycats attempting to use a similar dispute to get money out of their neighbours.
He said: “There are a lot of shared driveways in Barnet – this action could set up some sort of a legal precedent for other neighbours to do the same.”
Lyons Davidson, commenting on behalf of Mr Suleman, said: “The case was not about wheelie bins but about the right of way. Our clients have been through the legal process and Mr Ali agreed to pay our clients' costs which were finalised yesterday and the matter is now concluded.”
But MP for Hendon, Matthew Offord, has called the ruling “ridiculous” and plans to take it up with the Attorney General.
He said: “Common sense says that for an incident in which there was no material loss to result in a demand for over £15,000 in costs is ridiculous. This is not the sort of case that should be taking up court time and I shall be raising the matter with the Attorney General again to seek changes to the legal system that will prevent such practices occurring.”
The Times Series has been unable to get in contact with Mr Suleman.
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