How to take your own legal action to deal with a noise nuisance
If you feel you have exhausted all other routes such as speaking with your neighbour, mediation hasn’t worked or that warnings from the Council have had no effect then you may wish to take your own legal action. This could be seeking legal advice from a solicitor or Citizens Advice Bureau or legal action such as an Injunction or making a complaint to the Magistrates Court.
You do however need to be aware that immediate solutions to noise issues are very rarely available, and a resolution may take some time.
What powers do you have?
Section 82 of the Environmental Protection Act 1990 provides a right for any person suffering nuisance to make a complaint to a Magistrates Court.
If the Magistrates are satisfied that a nuisance exists they may make an order requiring the person causing the nuisance to stop and / or prevent the nuisance starting again.
- Write to the person causing the nuisance referring to the problem, the effect it is having upon you, when you have spoken to them about it and what, if anything they agreed to do. Ask them again to stop causing a nuisance.
- Keep a record of the times you have spoken to the person and copies of any letters you have written to them. Keep a record of all the dates and times that you hear the nuisance.
- Speak to other neighbours to see if anyone else is troubled by the same problem and is prepared to give evidence against the person causing it.
- If the Police have been called out, get a statement from the officer who visited – be sure to get their name, number and station when they visit.
- If there has been any involvement with the council environmental or anti-social behaviour teams then ask them for a statement of the actions they have taken.
When preparing your case you should include the following details:
- The name of the person and their address
- The type of nuisance, for example, DIY or amplified noise
- When and how often the nuisance occurs
- The effect the nuisance has on you, for example disturbed sleep or difficulty to hear your own TV.
- Evidence you have contacted the person causing the nuisance and tried to resolve the issue
- Your log of incidents that have occured
What is the procedure?
Before serving any Notice or Summons please have regard to section 160 Environmental Protection Act 1990 and also the importance of giving the appropriate notification of the bringing of proceedings, as set out in Section 82 of the Environmental Protection Act 1990.. Note the content of s82(7) in relation to the number of days.Keep a copy of this letter.
Contact the Magistrates Court, Lawson Street, Preston. Ask for the Justices’ Clerk’s Office and tell them you wish to lay a complaint under section 82 of the Environmental Protection Act 1990 for nuisance.
A secretary will type your summons on a court form. It will be signed by the Magistrates’ Clerk and sent to the person causing the nuisance, whose full name you must provide.
The Court will fix a date for the hearing of your case. This will normally be several weeks after the summons is served.
Tell the Clerk that you need at least 2 hours of Court time. Insist on this, otherwise on the day the case is heard it may be put off to another date. Ask the Clerk for advice on Court procedure so that you know how to present your case. If it is a complex case then it may be appropriate to ask for a case management hearing so that any procedural or evidential difficulties can be resolved prior to the application being heard.
On the day of the hearing you will have to attend Court and convince the Magistrates that there was / is a nuisance. The person you allege is causing the nuisance will have the opportunity to make their own representations to the court opposing your application It will assist your application if you can take witnesses to support your case.
Don’t forget to take all your papers and evidence with you to the Court.
Other points to consider
You may be able to get free legal advice.
Ask a solicitor at the Citizens Advice Bureau if you think you may be eligible. If you lose your case in Court the Magistrates may award costs against you.
This means you may be asked to pay any money the person has spent defending themselves, for example, hiring a solicitor.
If the nuisance is from a trade or business then the company have legal defence that they are using ‘best practicable means’ to prevent a nuisance.
We can give you advice on what is likely to be considered ‘best practical means’, in your particular case.