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Remus2004
Remus2004, Barrister
Category: Property Law
Satisfied Customers: 70695
Experience:  Over 5 years in practice.
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I am owner of semi-detached house where the neighbours next

Customer Question

I am owner of semi-detached house where the neighbours next door spend their time spying on us. Day and night. First, when we wake in the morning with the derigatory comments with "did you hear". The time we watch T.V...I consider it to be spying because when we do speak over diner. They are commenting on us having diner!!!!! Are they disturbed by the silence??? They definitely are making their well heard use word of "stupid" when we are watching T.V. Put me off from watching it.
Our ajdacent gardens meant that I heard the husband made the comment to guests I could hear saying "they play the violin all the time" which he NEVER directly complain to us about. This led to a discussion on educating and making chose for children when those children don't care among the guests...Hello!!!
And I could go on with the unsolicited comments...
Submitted: 3 years ago.
Category: Property Law
Expert:  Remus2004 replied 3 years ago.
Thank you for your question. My name is XXXXX XXXXX I will try to help with this.

How can I help with this please?
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

If the piece of information given above gives an idea of what my issue is? Is there an actual law against invasion of privacy? - especially that I am not a public figure - Can the neighbours be stopped from being downright and systematically spoiling and being intrusive, to insult and to be interrupting our existence?

Expert:  Remus2004 replied 3 years ago.
Thanks for the information.

In a nutshell, unless you are actually watching their properties there is nothing they can do about this.

The law upon privacy in the UK is still quite limited.

Its fair to say that the private citizen has a good deal of protection against State surveillance.  Both the police and the local Councils and other emanations of the State need Court authorities before they can conduct surveillance upon a target and that is not usually given lightly.  But the private individual or company is free to erect CCTV cameras almost to their heart's content.

If a CCTV camera captures a person doing something really private - e.g using a bathroom - then there may be an offence of voyeurism.  Unless it goes that far there are very few limits upon their freedom to do so.

If the essence of this is that they are just watching you then you have even more limited protection Im afraid as that would not offend even if were watching you doing something really private.

There is suggestion that the Human Rights legislation may develop in this direction but it has not really happened yet.  The HRA regulates the relationship between the State and the citizen.  It does not usually become involved in disputes between two citizens and the Courts are reluctant to extend this jurisdiction.  

As a general rule in the UK there needs to be a relationship of confidence between the party who's privacy is invaded and the invader before there is any cause of action.  If there is none then any person is free to take photographs of any other with or without consent.  The case of Douglas v Hello! did seem to suggest that the Court of Appeal accepted that the HRA could be used to underpin a freestanding right of privacy.  However, the later case of Wainwright v Home Office was a decision of the House of Lords in which it was held that there is no general tort of privacy.  There have been other cases that have undermined Wainwright but they have generally involved the police or the local Council.  Its much harder to apply this to the private individual.

The only other alternative is harassment. In principle, if they talk about you so loudly that you can over hear then that is capable of being harassment.

I'm sorry this isn't the answer you wanted but it is the position that you face and I have a duty to inform you truthfully.

Hope this helps. Please let me know if you need more information.

Jo

Remus2004 and 2 other Property Law Specialists are ready to help you
Expert:  Remus2004 replied 3 years ago.
Thank you for the positive rating and remember that I am always available to help with your questions. For future information, please start your question with ‘FOR JO C’