Hello, thank you for your question. My name is XXXXX XXXXX I can help you with this.
Is the noise and disturbance constant every day?
I think they have completely gutted and redone the house
Okay. There are cases that suggest normal construction operations will not amount to an actionable nuisance at law. However, normal construction operations the not take the form of constant noise and disturbance from a four-year period of a residential property renovation.
Therefore, you should be able to rely upon common law nuisance principles to address this.
OK thanks, XXXXX XXXXX can I do? I have a local law firm I work with on other family business
This is where you would issue a claim in the County Court (if you needed to) seeking an injunction to prevent your neighbour from making a nuisance (in the sense of the constant noise) and claim damages by way of compensation for what has happened so far.
OK thanks, XXXXX XXXXX from home on some days and that is when it is most disruptive
The more you are willing to limit the nature of the relief that you seek, such as by limiting when work can be done, as opposed preventing it completely, the more likely you are to be successful in relation to this. If, perhaps, you are at work during the day, then you might say that any construction work should take place between 10 AM and 4 PM only. That might be a decent compromise, and give you a greater assurance of succeeding at court.
The court always has a difficult job to do in these types of cases, essentially by balancing the interests of the parties by what it considers reasonable in any given case.
It has to balance the rights of the neighbour to do as he pleases, on his land, and if you to enjoy your land peacefully. As I mentioned, construction and renovation works are a normal part of day-to-day life, but I seriously doubt that any court would consider a four-year period of renovation of constant noise to be reasonable in this context.
To make matters worse, my wife is at home and terminally ill with an aggressive brain tumour (prognosis for life is only months) so the house is never empty during the day
Okay. This is most certainly a factor that the court would consider in determining what action it should take. This is particularly so if the renovation works have been ongoing for the considerable period that they have.
Is your neighbour aware of your wife's condition?
not really, as I said earlier, he doesn't talk to us
Okay. Personally, I would like to think the neighbour, if aware of the real position, would be willing to stop works or seriously curtail them at least between certain hours, to give your wife the peace she deserves.
It might be worth approaching him in the first instance, explaining the situation, asking that he co-operate.
Your wife's condition is something that would come out in any court proceedings if you had to issue them in any event.
You could speak to the environmental health department of your local council, as they do have enforcement powers in relation to excessive noise. However, they are likely to want you to take a diary, listing all the incidences of noise and disturbance over a period of probably one to two months. You might think this is too long.
I think the neighbour is unlikely to, he has been abusive to people who have been to his house before just to ask if he will take a parcel on behalf of a neighbour (not us) and I have heard him shouting at his ex-wife on his mobile in garden, saying he hopes she dies of cancer
Okay. He sounds a thoroughly pleasant character.
Correct, he upset my youngest child once by shouting at my wife and I had to talk to him about it, funnily enough he doesn't shout at other men
In this case, I would strongly suggest that you consult a solicitor and look at making an urgent interim injunction application in the High Court. You could, as a result of this, have an order in place within days (or more realistically a week or two at most) that prevents him from carrying out works between certain hours.
Probably best if I progress the court action with our local law firm then and bring this to a conclusion?
It would then remain in place until a trial of the action, which would probably be about a year or so away. I would certainly give you the peace that was required for that amount of time.
It might be, yes.
I always try to find a way of resolving matters without instructing lawyers if possible, as they always cost money, but sometimes there is little alternative. In a matter of this importance, it does make sense to move on this quickly.
That would take the action well beyond my wife's life expectancy which would be a relief and I guess it would be sensible for the lawyers to take a statement from her? At least money is not a problem
When you go to see your solicitors, they will obviously research the law for you, but as this is an area that I know rather well, you might wish to refer them to the case of Andreae -v- Selfridge  Ch 1, in which the court said:
"Those who say that interference with the comfort of their neighbours is justified... Are under a specific duty... To use reasonable and proper care and skill. It is not a correct attitude to say: 'we will go one and do what we like until somebody complains'. That is not their duty to their neighbours. Their duties to take proper precautions, and to see that the nuisance is reduced to a minimum."
Yes, they may require a statement from her, it is not necessarily essential. If you needed to proceed without her, you can probably do that, certainly at this stage.
OK thanks, XXXXX XXXXX that and thank you for your help
However, if neither of you have an objection to her being involved, then certainly obtaining a statement from her is a sensible thing to do, particularly given the life expectancy.
You're most welcome.
Is there anything more than I can help you with on this?
If you wish to chat any part of this through with me at any other time, you're more than welcome to do that.
Thanks very much and yes, my wife will be fine with a statement, she has lived with much more of it than I have!