This can be a complicated and expensive process. If we decide to take a case on your behalf, then there will be no costs to yourself, and you will be guided through the process by one of our officers.
You may decide to take action in either the Civil or Criminal Courts. All action by ourselves is undertaken in the Criminal Courts. Civil proceedings for nuisance are not a matter for us and you should seek separate legal advice if considering a Civil nuisance action.
If you decide you are prepared to take your complaint to the Magistrates Court, you will need to collect evidence in support. You can do this by making notes using the questionnaire and keeping a record on the log sheets.
As mentioned before, your case will be much stronger if you can get other witnesses who are prepared to keep similar records and appear in Court.
If you are employing a solicitor, he or she will arrange to get your case heard at court. However, you may make a complaint without using a solicitor by carrying out the following procedure:
First of all, you must give the person about whom you are complaining 3 days' notice of your intention to make a complaint.
Download a Form A - Intention to Make a Complaint to do this, but keep a copy.
After the 3 days have passed, then complete 2 copies of the Form B - Complaint Form, take one copy to the Magistrates Court and keep the other copy for your own use.
You can attend the court for this purpose any Monday, Wednesday or Friday between 9.15am and 9.40am, but you must report to the General Office on the third floor at 9am first.
When it's your turn to see the Magistrates, they will look at your completed form, and will ask you some questions about the nature of your complaint eg
- your name and address
- your telephone number
- the address where the nuisance is coming from
- the name of person(s) causing the nuisance
- when you first experienced the problem
- how often the nuisance occurs
- have you complained to the person causing the problem and if so what was his/her response
- what evidence of nuisance you have
- what other witnesses there are
If the Magistrates are satisfied that your complaint is a reasonable one, your form will be signed and the court will arrange a hearing, for a future date, at which the defendant (the person you are complaining about) will be summoned to appear.
At the hearing
The court will listen to details of your complaint, and also to what the defendant has to say in reply. They will hear evidence from you and your witnesses (if any) and the defence.
The Magistrates will then decide whether or not a noise nuisance exists or is likely to recur. If they decide that a nuisance does exist (or has existed - but may recur in the future), then they will make a Nuisance Order which requires the defendant to stop causing the nuisance within a stated time and/or prevent the recurrence of the nuisance.
They may also fine the defendants at this time. If the Magistrates decide that your case has not been proved they will dismiss the proceedings and may award costs against you.
If the nuisance continues
If, after an Order has been made, the nuisance continues, you should make careful notes of the dates, times etc of the nuisance, as you did before, and report it to the Magistrates Court.
Solicitors and costs
You do not have to employ a solicitor to take action under the Environmental Protection Act. There are, however, a number of rules to be followed. Solicitors are trained in applying these rules and if you are not represented you may have difficulties in getting all your evidence heard.
If you use a solicitor you will have to pay their fees. However, if you successfully prove your case, you can ask the court to order the defendant to pay your costs in bringing these proceedings.
It may be better for you to take a civil case to apply for an injunction or for damages, and a solicitor will be able to advise you on the best course of action and your chances of success.
If we take a case on your behalf they carry these risks for you and will bear any costs.