As the popular theme tune goes, “Neighbours, everybody needs good neighbours, with a little
understanding, you can find the perfect blend”. Unfortunately, many people suffer
with disturbance, nuisance and conflicts with their neighbours. But what can
one do about it? A recent Court of Appeal decision (Raymond v Young) exposed a serious case of nuisance neighbours and
the remedies the Court can order.
Mr Young (and his family) had been responsible for
continuous acts of harassment, trespass and nuisance against the owners of a
farm for almost 40 years, far longer than the popular Australian soap has been
running for. Acts ranged from physical
intimidation and obstruction of rights of way to allowing dogs to defecate on
The County Court granted a permanent injunction and made
damages for acts of trespass;
to £1,000 for various acts of nuisance (which were rounded up to a total of
£20,000 to take into account damages for distress and inconvenience);
damages of £5,000; and
for loss of value to the farm.
On appeal, the main point the Court of Appeal had to decide
was whether it was wrong to have made an award for the loss in value as the
injunction would prevent further acts of nuisance.
The Court held that the injunction may not be enough to stop
the behaviour. Consequently, any purchaser of the farm would need to start
fresh Court proceedings to obtain a new injunction. Therefore an award of
£155,000 for loss of value was allowed. The Court did note that, in the case of
nuisance that is only short-lived, there is unlikely to be a loss of capital
value to a property.
In addition, the Court clarified that damages for loss of value
are intended to compensate landowners for distress and loss of amenity as a
result of a nuisance. The calculation
for loss of value should take these factors into account. Consequently the
Court reduced the damages awarded to the owners of the farm by £20,000.
This case is at the more extreme end of the scale of
nuisance and trespass cases. However it is a useful reminder that the court can
award substantial damages in addition to an injunction which may provide some
solace for those whose properties are blighted by troublesome neighbours.
For a link to the full judgement, please click here.