March 28th | 2018
Noise dispute with Neighbours? Try mediation at the earliest stages
It can be stressful to live with noisy neighbours. It can be a lengthy and costly affair if you end up taking the matter to court, as revealed in a recent case when a banker in Kensington won over £100,000 in compensation for what the judge deemed to be an "invasive and disturbing level" of day to day noise. However whether the claimant recovers her legal costs is not known.
Could mediation have been a better option to resolve a case like this? What are the options?
Firstly you can ask the local authority to send an environmental health officer to assess whether the level of noise is a nuisance and/or health matter. Secondly you can take the matter to the magistrate court to claim it is a statutory nuisance and apply for an abatement order. Thirdly you can make a claim to a county court or the high court for compensation in relation to a private nuisance, and this can incur legal costs. However none of these options is likely to make neighbourly relations any easier, or bring a quick resolution.
Local authorities regularly use independent mediators to resolve such matters. We are very experienced in sorting out many disputes between neighbours. People in privately owned homes are less aware of this option. In the abovementioned case, Judge Parfitt concluded that the tenants of the upper apartment should have laid carpets and taken some reasonable steps to mitigate noise. Such practical solutions are common outcomes of mediated meetings on such matters. But even more than saving time and money, mediation has the scope to prevent an entrenched and bitter argument and to build a more effective way of communicating over future issues.