A COUPLE are facing an £18,000 legal bill after losing a court battle over car parking.
Natalie and Dale Taylor, of Longcroft Street, Golcar, went to court over their neighbour Kenneth Armistead's right to park his car on a grassed area next to their house.
But they lost the battle and are now warning people what can happen if they pursue matters through the courts.
Mr Taylor, 31, a self-employed builder, said: "We need some advice. We have no idea what to do.
"We just can't believe it - what's the point of owning land if you have no say over it. We didn't want to go to court, we didn't want the stress.
"We want to warn other people about what can happen."
The couple bought the house and grassed area in 1998, as they wanted a garden for their daughter - now 10 - to play in. They also now have a three-year-old son. Mrs Taylor does not work.
Deeds to the land and property state that Mr Armistead was allowed to pass over the grassed area to get to his house at 2, Longcroft Yard.
The Taylors knew of this right, but thought the access would be on foot.
However, they soon discovered that Mr Armistead parked his car on the grass.
Mr Taylor said: "We were worried about children's safety if cars were parking there and asked him not to.
"He started parking on Longcroft Street and we heard nothing for a while but then got letters threatening court."
An agreement could not be reached and the long-running dispute culminated in Mr Armistead taking the Taylors to court.
At Huddersfield County Court, a judge found in Mr Armistead's favour.
The judge decided that because the house deeds allowed Mr Armistead to pass over the grass in a vehicle, he should also be able to park there.
The Taylors were ordered to pay Mr Armistead's legal costs of £16,000 plus £2,000 in damages.
They were also ordered to move their washing line and park their cars on Longcroft Street instead of in their driveway, to avoid blocking Mr Armistead's access.
The Taylors are now desperately worried about how to pay the legal fees.
They had to give up their own solicitor before the hearing because the bill had reached £1,200 and they could not afford any more.
Nigel Priestley, of solicitors Ridley and Hall, said his client Mr Armistead had tried to negotiate with the Taylors.
"Issuing proceedings at court was a last resort for Ken Armistead, who has made numerous attempts to settle the case since 1999. "Only when it became clear that the Taylors were not going to be reasonable, did he have to ask the court for an order.
Mr Priestley said the fees the Taylors have to pay are reasonable and added: "It must be born in mind that these have to first met by Mr Armistead and then recovered."
He added that Mr Armistead - who lives in Northumberland and uses his Golcar property occasionally - had bought the house in 1973 and had no problems parking on the grass until the Taylors moved in.
Mr Armistead said: "The Taylors prevented me from driving across the yard and parking by placing obstacles in the way."