Noisy neighbours can be the bane of one’s existence, so it is no real surprise that a lesbian couple finally lost patience with their adjoining next-door neighbours after they had workmen carrying out extensive building work on their property for a period of five years.
The work was scheduled to take one year, but the project overran, causing serious disturbance to the neighbours as well as damage to their property. The couple also claimed that they had suffered harassment, with the defendants behaving aggressively toward them, leaving them abusive notes and refusing to take any steps to rectify the damage done to their property or ameliorate the nuisance.
One of the couple developed symptoms of stress to the extent that she could no longer work. The women brought claims for nuisance and trespass and one brought a claim for personal injury and loss of earnings.
In court, the women were awarded damages for loss of amenity and enjoyment and for nuisance. Although it was agreed that harassment had occurred, the judge excluded an award for damages for personal injury because it could not be shown that the woman’s psychological injury was a reasonably foreseeable result of the behaviour of the defendants. The woman appealed and the case reached the Court of Appeal.
The Court held that there was no need for the harm to be reasonably foreseeable to create a valid claim. It was sufficient that the behaviour constituted deliberate harassment and caused the injury. The Court awarded damages for personal injury of more than £140,000.