There are laws protecting innocent bystanders and neighbours from excessive noise, such as the Environmental Protection Act 1990 and the Noise Act 1996. For example, builders and construction workers can generally only work in a residential area between the hours of Monday to Friday 8:00am to 6:00pm; Saturdays 8:00am to 1:00pm. There is also the Tort (“wrong”) of Nuisance, which is a civil claim for damages and an application for an injunction against the other party to “cease and desist” making the noise.
If the noise from your neighbours’ home (shouting, slamming doors, loud music) or a local construction site is excessive and disturbing your “quiet enjoyment” of your home, there are several steps that you can take to resolve the situation. The .Gov website contains useful guidance:
Firstly, you should write to the other party in the most polite and friendly terms possible asking them to reduce the noise or cease it altogether. Hopefully, the noise will be temporary (such as construction work), or the neighbour simply may not have realised that they were making quite such a noise that was audible to others, and it will cease on a first request.
This local council’s website contains useful template letters from a “first request” to a threat of legal action:
You may complain to the environmental health department at your local council who may investigate the noise and take action against the other party. They are under a statutory duty to investigate noise disturbances and they can issue Noise Abatement Orders without the need for Court action by you.
You may also complain to your local Magistrates Court. I suggest that you take video and audio recordings of the noise on your phone and produce a diary by way of proving your case and issue the other party with a “3-day warning letter” to stop the noise. If successful, the Court will issue a Noise Abatement Order against the other party.
The final option is to apply to your local County Court for a civil injunction and damages under the Tort of Nuisance. This is essentially a Civil Order for the other party to cease the noise and pay you damages by way of compensation for the nuisance, distress, and inconvenience.
I recommend that you send the other party a 7-day final warning to cease the noise and compile your evidence (audio and video recordings, diaries etc.) to present your case to the judge. You should then complete the application for the injunction and send it to your County Court (with the fee, currently £308.00 payable to H M Court and Tribunal Service).
The Court will list a Hearing where you attend and ask the Judge for an Order for damages and the injunction. The Court may also Order the other party to pay your legal costs of the application. The Order will be served on the other party and if they ignore or breach it, they are in Contempt of Court. This is a criminal offence punishable by fine or imprisonment.
If you take the Court injunction route, I strongly recommend that you instruct a solicitor who specialises in Civil Litigation and Nuisance claims. These areas of law are very complex and while the Court may grant you a fair amount of sympathy and leeway if you represent yourself (i.e., as a Litigant In Person), your application may slip up on a technicality which would be second-nature to an experienced solicitor but which a Litigant In Person conducting their first legal action would be unaware. Furthermore, if your application is flawed or otherwise has poor prospects of success and is dismissed by the Court, you may be ordered to pay the other party’s costs of defending the application. These costs may be substantial and its risk outweigh any potential benefit to you.
If you have a Home and Contents Insurance Policy with Legal Expenses Cover, it may be worth notifying your insurers and requesting that your legal fees in this claim be paid and/or that they appoint a law firm on their panel of insurers to conduct your application.