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Taking your own action

If you wish to take your own formal action, you can complain about a nuisance direct to the magistrates' court under section 82 of the Environmental Protection Act 1990.

It is advisable to seek the guidance from a solicitor, or the Citizen's Advice Bureau before going ahead. Advice from a solicitor may be free to those who are financially eligible under the legal aid scheme.

How to Proceed

The magistrates' court will need to be persuaded that the problem amounts to a statutory nuisance. It is important that you keep a written record of the dates, times and duration of the nuisance, as well as a description of its nature and the distress it causes you in the reasonable occupation of your home.

When you contact the court, tell them you wish to make a complaint under section 82 of the Environmental Protection Act 1990. You will probably need to visit the court where the procedure will be explained to you and you may be asked for evidence of the problem (e.g. a diary log of nuisance events).

The court will then decide if a summons can be issued on the person responsible for the nuisance, stating the date and time of the court hearing. When the time comes for the hearing, you will have to attend court to give evidence.

The person responsible for the nuisance will very likely come to the court to defend themselves, and may even make counter-accusations. You do not need to have a solicitor to represent you at the hearing, although you may do so if you wish.

The Outcome

If the court decides in your favour it will make an order requiring the offender to abate the nuisance and specify the measures they will have to take to achieve this. The order may also prohibit or restrict a recurrence of the nuisance. The court may also impose a fine at the same time as making the order.

If the court finds that the nuisance existed at the date of making the complaint, they will award you the reasonable costs incurred by you in bringing the action against the nuisance maker. These costs will be awarded whether or not the nuisance still exists or an abatement order is made. If an order is made the court will generally require the noise maker to pay your costs.

If the case is dismissed, you will normally incur your own costs in bringing the case to court and you may incur the costs of the other party.