It’s legal to trim your neighbour's tree (even if he doesn't want you to), Germany’s highest court rules

The Local
The Local - [email protected] • 14 Jun, 2021 Updated Mon 14 Jun 2021 09:00 CEST
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The Federal High Court (BGH) is used to dealing with some of the most high-profile crimes in the country. But on Friday it announced its ruling on a rather different deliberation - whether it is permissible to trim branches hanging over into one's garden.

In recent weeks the BGH has confirmed rulings against far-right terrorists, police killers and murderous businessmen. 

So the judges were no doubt happy for a bit of light relief when they were asked to deliberate a slightly less gruesome issue - whether the law allows one to cut back the branches of a neighbours tree that have grown over the fence.

This seemingly inconsequential matter of law made it all the way up to the highest court after a Berlin judge ruled in favour of the tree's owner.

A Berlin man whose spruce tree had spread its branches into the neighbours garden filed a complaint when he saw that his neighbour had cut back the branches in his side of the fence.

The tree owner said that the action could have destabilized his tree and made it more vulnerable to being blown over by a storm. He even insisted that the pruning of its branches could lead the tree to die.

But on Friday the BGH ruled in favour of the tree pruner, saying he had a right to self-help which was provided for in the German Civil Code.

The judges emphasized that the right to self-help could be restricted by nature conservation regulations, such as tree protection statutes, but that these did not apply in this case.

SEE ALSO: The story of Germany’s oldest national park as it turns 50

 

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