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Taking your own legal action to deal with noise nuisance

Judges gavel

How to take your own legal action to deal with a noise nuisance

If after speaking to your neighbour (see our details fact sheet 'Discussing the disturbance with your neighbour') you are unable to resolve the problem, and you want to take your own legal action then this fact sheet will help you. However, you need to be aware that immediate solutions to the problems of noise are very rarely available, and things 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.

Your evidence

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. If you want you can download and use our nuisance diary sheets (PDF) [91KB] .

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.

When building up your case you should include the following details:

  • The address complained about
  • The name(s) of the person or people causing the nuisance
  • The type of nuisance, for example, Loud amplified music
  • When and how often the nuisance occurs
  • The effect the nuisance has on you, for example Lack of sleep or inability to rear or relax
  • An example of one particular time when the nuisance was a serious problem to you
  • The number of times you have complained to the person causing the nuisance, and
  • Your diary of events, for example  nuisance diary sheets (PDF) [91KB]

What is the procedure?

At least 3 days before you visit the Court, write to the person causing the nuisance and tell them that you intend to take out a court summons against them for nuisance under Section 82 of the Environmental Protection Act 1990.

Keep a copy of this letter.

Go to 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.

On the day of the hearing you will have to attend Court and convince the Magistrates that there was / is a nuisance.

The person causing the nuisance will probably try to convince the Court that they are innocent and that your charge is nonsense. It will help if you can take witnesses to support your case.

Don't forget to take all your papers 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.

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