In a stern warning to businesses that they must respect the sensibilities of residential neighbours, a couple who were awarded damages in respect of noise nuisance emanating from adjoining premises occupied by a car auction company have had their pay-out confirmed by the Court of Appeal.
The couple had claimed that they had endured ‘horrendous’ noise – including revving of engines, high impact bangs and crashes and guard dogs barking late at night. – during a six-year period. Their claim was upheld by a High Court judge who awarded them £9,000 in damages.
On appeal, the company argued that the judge had taken insufficient account of witness statements from eight other home owners in the area who said that the company’s activities had had little or no impact on them, that the noise was not bad, that the dogs were never heard and that they managed to sleep without difficulty.
However, in dismissing the appeal, the Court noted that those eight witnesses all lived considerably further away than the couple from the main source of the noise and ruled that their evidence was therefore of little value in assessing the level of noise and whether or not it was reasonable.
The company also submitted that the judge had erred in describing the relevant area as ‘mainly residential’ given the number of light industrial and other businesses in the locality. However, the Court noted that the judge had acknowledged in his ‘most careful’ decision that there were business uses and busy roads nearby and that residents could not reasonably expect a noise-free environment.
The judge, who was influenced by the fact that the noise levels were reduced after the couple issued proceedings, had applied the appropriate objective standard and the correct legal tests to the issue and his decision contained no error of law.