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Constat de Huissier


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We have been informed by our neighbours that a retaining wall between our properties is in their opinion in a dangerous condition. They have also said that it is our sole responsibility to demolish and rebuild it because it retains our soil. We have offered to repair the wall but without total demolition. They do not consider this a satisfactory solution and now inform us of their intention of getting a Constat de justice compiled by a Huissier de justice.

Can you please advise us on the following;

Is the wall the sole responsibility of the person whose soil is being retained by it even though the wall forms part of their courtyard.

Would we incur any costs if our neighbours went ahead and obtained a Constat de Justice

Is there a time frame attached to any decision on work to be done by the Constat de Justice.

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Hello Abe

To answer your first question:

if the retaining wall has slopes on both sides of it (i.e.the wall divides 2 sloping pieces of land), it is deemed to be of shared ownership. The maintenance is shared.

If there is a slope on one side only (supporting or retaining wall), it is deemed to belong to the owner whose land is being supported or retained. The owner must ensure no damage is cause to a third party.

To answer your second question:

as far as I know, a constat d'huissier is simply what is says: a legal report which describes the condition of the wall and it cannot be used to force you to demolish and rebuilt the wall, but it would be used further down the line if the wall collapsed and caused damage to a third party.

If no damage is caused, they would have to take it further (i.e. tribunal) to force you to do any work.

constat d'huissier is done at their request, so at their charge.

In your shoes, I would repair the wall (if it belonged to me), to make it safe and give me piece of mind. I would possibly also get a
constat d'huissier done afterwards to establish the good repair.

I am NOT a legal specialist! If in any doubt, pay for legal advice.

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Thanks to Clair for the sound advice.

We always intended and indeed have offered to repair the wall, but for some reason this was not enough for the neighbours who want it demolished and repaired. We plan to get as much information as possible before making a final decision.
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