A MULTIMILLIONAIRE forced to pay his neighbours £237,000 when his mansion’s extension crossed 18 inches onto their land has won a court battle to win the cash back.
Alex MacPhail, 55, was sued by web entrepreneur Tom Gueterbock and his wife Helen after the couple claimed he’d staged a secret “land grab” in affluent Wandsworth, South West London,
Mr MacPhail built a basement room extending a foot-and-a-half under the boundary separating their homes – leading the Gueterbocks to accuse him of “trespass”.
The pair demanded he fill in some of his basement and partially demolish his house above ground to separate out the two properties.
After a number of legal hearings, Mr MacPhail was left £530,000 out of pocket.
He paid his neighbours £237,000 in damages and was forced to stump up court costs of £283,000.
But another court has now backed Mr MacPhail – and says the developer of his home, Henderson Court Ltd (HCL), must be responsible for covering his entire losses.
Judge Nicholas Parfitt said the disastrous building project was “not a success”, and it was the company’s responsibility to ensure the project complied with planning permission rules.
“HCL acted without the skill and care to be expected of a reasonable contractor and failed to build the property in a good and workmanlike manner,” Judge Parfitt said.
Central London County Court earlier heard that Mr MacPhail’s £4million house was built between 2015 and 2018 in one of the area’s most sought-after streets.
The former commodities broker, who now works as a motivational speaker, invested £2.5m to buy a plot of land in the road.
But web and app developer Mr Gueterbock, 53 – son of Labour peer Anthony Gueterbock – later objected when he and his wife realised that their new neighbour’s house had been built closer to their home than expected.
It meant a passageway between the properties had been narrowed to less than three feet, making access to their back garden difficult.
Meanwhile, although planning permission was granted for a basement directly beneath the house, the builders instead extended it under the alleyway and beneath the wall of their own home.
Shortly before the case went to trial, Mr MacPhail agreed to settle.
But he continued to argue that the developers were responsible for his losses.
Judge Parfitt has now found that HCL should pay out because it was responsible for acquiring the freehold, securing planning permission, paying contractors and borrowing money for building work.
“The overwhelming conclusion on the evidence is that HCL carried out the works and it was only once it had finished those works that it became potentially entitled to the final payment from Mr MacPhail,” he said.
“On the present facts, HCL was liable for the trespass because… it built the basement to the flank wall of [the Gueterbocks’ house].”