The Boundary Disputes Mediation Service (BDMS) is designed by RICS and the Property Litigation Association and supported by the Civil Justice Council (CJC) to help neighbours resolve disputes about boundary lines and related issues. It provides a quicker, cheaper and more informal approach than litigation, while helping neighbours to deal with issues that are at the heart of their dispute in a positive and proactive way.
Mediation allows the parties to take ownership of dealing with their dispute and helps them to achieve an outcome that is satisfactory to all. The Mediator helps the parties to define the issues clearly, understand each other's position and move closer to resolution. Where there are multiple issues at play, the Mediator will work with the parties to narrow the range of issues between them and help them find possible solutions that are acceptable to both sides.
RICS charges a fee of £240.00 inclusive of VAT to administer the nomination of a mediator who is suitable for the particular matter and is independent of both sides. This payment is non-refundable whether or not the appointment is made (e.g. if the matter is settled by agreement and the application is withdrawn). Parties are encouraged to
The mediator, who will be a lawyer or chartered surveyor, will charge a fixed fee of £2100 (inclusive of VAT) per party for an 8 hour mediation session, including a mediation hearing and preparatory work. This amounts to a maximum of £4200 (inclusive of VAT) per mediation. This is significantly less than the costs of court action and neighbours are encouraged to share the cost.
Any additional hours can be charged at an hourly rate that is agreed between the mediator and the parties prior to the start of the mediation.
The timetable for the mediation is agreed between the mediator and the parties. The details of agreed solutions will be written into a settlement agreement, which both parties can formalise into a contract. Timescales for agreed actions, etc. can be included in this.
We encourage the parties to share the cost of the application fee. If one party completes and submits the application for a mediator, then that party is responsible for ensuring the payment is made.
Either party to the dispute can apply. Mediation is a voluntary process, so both parties must agree to engage in the process. A joint application by both parties can be made, and this would signal that the parties have agreed to mediate.
The mediation process itself is not binding on the parties, and either party may withdraw from the process at any time. If the mediation results in a formal settlement agreement, then once signed by both parties it becomes a legal document which can be enforced through the law of contract. Alternatively, if litigation proceedings have begun, parties can ask for a stay of proceedings, complete the mediation and then set out the settlement agreement in a consent order (Tomlin order) which is a court order that is based on what the parties have agreed, and can be enforced by the courts.
The mediator does not decide the outcome. At the end of a mediation, parties will often record matters that they have agreed in a settlement agreement. It may be that they agree on all matters in dispute, or some matters.
Statistically, mediation has proven to be immensely successful at helping parties to reach agreement on disputed matters. In circumstances where mediation fails to achieve an agreed settlement, the parties retain the option to take their dispute to court.