Neighbours, everybody needs good neighbours

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 farm.
The County Court granted a permanent injunction and made several awards.

1.    £3,500 damages for acts of trespass;

2.    £50 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);

3.    Aggravated damages of £5,000; and

4.    £155,000 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.
By Will Leney, Solicitor