Striking a balance between celebrating and disrupting the rights of others
It’s the festive season and the air is heavy with excitement and celebrations, stereos blasting loud music, animals earmarked for slaughter making sounds at top gear, thanks to our poor electricity, there is the issue of generator sounds and fumes from the neighbours to deal with. It is important to create a balance between having a fun-filled holiday and not constituting a nuisance to others.
What is Nuisance and how is it handled according to law?
According to the Black’s Law Dictionary, the 2nd Edition;
A nuisance occurs when a party’s action significantly affects, interferes or otherwise negatively impacts another’s ability to use and enjoy their property and which may affect health, safety and welfare.
Acts that constitute nuisance:
Loud noises and vibrations
Smoke, fumes and gases
Kept animals(smell and sound)
Littered/stored trash/waste deposits.
Nuisance is grouped in two:
Public Nuisance: Public nuisance occurs when a person causes an inconvenience to the general public by his action or inaction. A public nuisance is generally a crime and is actionable by the Attorney General. See S.234 of the Criminal Code.
A private person has a right to action where he/she can establish that the damage suffered is over and above that of the general public.
Private Nuisance: Private Nuisance is a civil wrong, it is the unreasonable and unlawful use of one’s property in a way that substantially interferes with the enjoyment and use of another individual’s property without actual trespass or physical invasion on the land. Only a person who has a possessory or ownership interest in the affected land can sue in private nuisance.
The following elements should be present in proving private nuisance:
1)Material damage to land; the damage complained of should not be flimsy.
2)Substantial interference with the enjoyment of land; the interference should be substantial and not minimal.
3)The conduct of the person causing nuisance is unreasonable in the circumstances.
It is important to respect the rights of others even in the enjoyment of ours; blocking major roads for social reasons, turning the volume of the music box all the way up, littering the streets with trash and letting those fumes get into the neighbour’s property constitute a nuisance.
The popular saying runs trite but true,” the right to swing your fist ends where my nose begins”.