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Civil Litigation

Civil Litigation is a term of art which distinguishes lawyer Court work in the non-criminal stream of actions in law. It encompasses not just the representations made in Court but also the pre-trial procedures including interlocutory hearings, and the post-trial procedures such as costs and enforcement of a judgment.

Avoiding boundary disputes.

Neighbour noise complaints

Most people make some sound now and then, but continuous noise coming from the property next door can really disrupt your life. If you are having problems with noisy neighbours, here’s what you can do about it.

Informal discussion

The first step in attempting to deal with a neighbour who produces excessive noise is to discuss it informally with them. They may be unaware that the noise from their house is disturbing others, or there may be a reason for the noise of which you were not aware.

If you are concerned about approaching them for any reason, you may wish to instead put a letter through their door letting them know about your concerns. A letter is also useful because it sets out in writing that you have a problem with your neighbour’s behaviour, which can be useful if the problem goes further in future.

As with approaching your neighbour face-to-face, you should try to be friendly in the letter. However, you may want to leave your name off the letter if you’re worried about how they might react.

If you know that other people nearby are also bothered by the noise, you may wish to try and talk to the noisy neighbour in a group, or write a letter to which you all sign your names, in order to let the neighbour know that it is not just one person who has an issue with their behaviour.

Note down what the noises are, when they occur, how long they last, and any other relevant information about the circumstances.

Keeping a record

If your neighbours continue to be noisy after you have approached them about it, you should start to keep a record of the problem.

Note down what the noises are, when they occur, how long they last, and any other relevant information about the circumstances.

This will help to paint a picture of the disturbances you are experiencing and how frequent and problematic they are. If you have to take any further action in the future, the record could serve as useful evidence.

Contacting the authorities

If your neighbour is a tenant, you may wish to contact their landlord with your complaints, whether they are a private landlord, a housing association or the local council.

Noise complaints can sometimes be considered a ‘statutory nuisance’. This means that the council is required to investigate any problem relating to them. If you have been keeping a record of the noise disturbances your neighbour has caused, you can let the council know about this when you contact them.

If your neighbour is found to be excessively noisy, the council is required to issue a noise abatement order, which means that there will be a legal requirement for your neighbour to stop. If they continue being noisy, they face a fine of up to £5,000.

The GOV.UK site allows you to submit a noise complaint to your local council online.

Threats and antisocial behaviour

If your neighbour has become threatening after you attempted to talk to them about excessive noise, or if the noise is accompanied by further antisocial behaviour, read our advice on neighbour disputes.

Are you planning to have fireworks at your  party? Here is what you need to know

Who is responsible if someone gets hit by a firework at a party? Are there restrictions on when you can have a bonfire? And what can you do if your neighbour’s Bonfire party is keeping you up at night?

Bonfire Night brings thrills and fun for everybody with fireworks, sparklers and bonfires. And whilst they bring happiness to many, if mishandled what should be a very enjoyable evening can end in arguments between neighbours, or worse!

Who is responsible if someone gets hit by a firework at a party? Are there restrictions on when you can have a bonfire? And what can you do if your neighbour’s Bonfire Night party is keeping you up at night?

What are the legal ramifications if you are injured by a firework at a neighbour’s bonfire party?

An occupier of land owes a duty to any visitor to take reasonable care to ensure the visitor is safe on the premises.

Therefore if someone is hosting a firework party, they should ensure they are purchasing the fireworks from a licensed outlet, that they read the instructions carefully before use, and ensure that they light the fireworks from a safe place.

If you are injured, you may be able to hold the organiser of the event liable.

Is it true there are restrictions on when you can have a bonfire?

There are no restrictions on when you can have a bonfire.

Can you burn anything?

No you cannot. Under the Environmental Protection Act 1990, it is an offence to burn any substance that will release harmful fumes causing pollution to the environment or harm to human health (these could include plastic, rubber or painted items).

You need to ensure that the fire is contained and does not escape causing damage or injury to people. It is also an offence if anyone on a public road is “injured, interrupted or endangered” by fire or smoke from your bonfire.

Can you prevent your neighbour from having a bonfire?

It is unlikely that you would be able to prevent your neighbour from having a bonfire if they are doing so occasionally and are not burning hazardous material.

Obviously, if the neighbour’s fire is posing a clear risk to the safety of your property this could be reported to the fire service.

What recourse do I have if my neighbour is causing a nuisance?

If your neighbour’s bonfire is affecting you, the first step would be to raise it with the neighbour to make them aware of the impact the bonfire has on you.

If this fails then you may be able to get a court order restricting the neighbour’s ability to have a bonfire.  But the occasional bonfire is unlikely to amount to a legal nuisance and legal advice should be sought when considering legal action against your neighbour.

If you neighbour is burning hazardous material you can report the neighbour to the environmental health team within your local authority.

If a neighbour’s bonfire burns your fence or property, who’s insurance should be claimed against?

If the fence was damaged because your neighbour failed to contain the fire and take appropriate steps to prevent the fire from escaping or getting out of control then your neighbour could be liable for the damage caused to the fence.

If it is your neighbour’s fault then they should claim on their insurance but you cannot insist they do so. However, when faced with a potential claim for damages the neighbour may choose to get their insurance company involved instead of dealing with it themselves.

Disclaimer: This information is for general guidance regarding rights and responsibilities and is not formal legal advice as no lawyer-client relationship has been created.

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