Not Every Noise is a Nuisance

Homeowners have every right to take legal action if their lives are blighted by noise nuisance. However, one case has underlined that the modern world is not always as free from disturbance as one might wish and that the courts will only take action to prevent noises which are objectively unreasonable.

A couple claimed that their lives had been made a misery by noise emanating from a multi-use games facility which was about 50 metres from their garden. The sound of bouncing balls, shouting and swearing had exiled them from their garden and they felt that they were living on tenterhooks, waiting for unexpected sounds.

In dismissing their claim for an injunction, however, a judge noted that it is always a question of degree whether interference with comfort or convenience is sufficiently serious to constitute a nuisance. He also observed that, in an organised society, it is a fact of life that everyone must put up with a certain amount of discomfort and annoyance caused by the legitimate activities of his or her neighbours.

The facility enjoyed strong support in the village where the couple lived and it was located on a recreation ground which had been bequeathed to the villagers more than 100 years ago, before the couple’s home was built. The noise it generated was not objectively unacceptable and the couple’s implacable opposition to its continued use had become an obsession. The facts of the case emerged as the Court of Appeal refused the couple permission to appeal against the judge’s ruling.

(May v Beatrice Drew Trust)