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Germany’s high court rules that it's legal to trim your neighbour’s tree

Germany’s high court rules that it's legal to trim your neighbour’s tree

Germany’s high court rules that it's legal to trim your neighbour’s tree

We’ve all been there: your neighbour’s annoying large tree has started intruding into your garden. It keeps getting bigger and bigger and you want nothing more than to trim every branch encroaching onto your property. But you can’t do that because that would be illegal, right…?

Federal high court rules in favour of tree trimmer

Germany’s highest court, the Federal High Court (BGH), was called in to rule on a rather unusual case last week. A man from Berlin had complained to the local courts after his neighbour cut back his spruce tree that had started encroaching into his neighbour’s garden.

While the neighbour only cut back the branches on their side of the fence, the tree’s owner complained that trimming the tree might have destabilised the tree, leading it to be more prone to falling over. He also insisted that cutting back the tree’s branches could cause it to die.

The right to self help

The matter eventually made its way to the Federal High Court after a Berlin judge ruled in favour of the tree’s owner. The BGH ruled in favour of the neighbour, saying they had a right to self-help, as provided for in the German Civil Code. Accordingly, the judges did say that the right to self-help could be restricted by nature conservation laws, but that did not apply in this case.

William Nehra

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William Nehra

William studied a masters in Classics at the University of Amsterdam. He is a big fan of Ancient History and football, particularly his beloved Watford FC.

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