Can I take private legal action?

Rather than resort to the law you may wish to try the following:


Taking your own private legal action

There are times, despite the best efforts of the investigating officer, when the council cannot obtain the evidence necessary to take action on behalf of the person who has made a complaint. This may be due to noise which occurs intermittently or the council is unable to gather evidence to prove a statutory nuisance.

In such circumstances independent legal action can be taken by complaining directly to the Magistrate's Court under Section 82 of the Environmental Protection Act 1990 under the grounds that you are aggrieved by noise amounting to a statutory nuisance. The procedure is fairly simple and need not cost much: you may not need to employ a solicitor but it is advisable to obtain some legal advice.

Brighton & Hove City Council cannot be held responsible for any outcome where private action is pursued. These notes are for guidance only. 

  1. collect your evidence by keeping a daily account of the disturbances and how you are affected. Information that should be included: dates, times and duration of noise; accurate description of the noise; nature and effect of disturbance e.g. unable to hear your television, unable to sleep, woken up; action taken at the time e.g. spoke to person responsible, called Police, went out. 
  2. establish the full name and address of the person(s) responsible for the noise, and the proper address of the noisy premises. 
  3. before approaching the Court you should write to the noisemaker(s) saying that unless the noise is abated within, say two weeks, you will complain to the Magistrate's Court to institute legal proceedings against them. You must specify the matter complained of. Keep a copy of all correspondence. 
  4. take your evidence to Brighton & Hove Magistrates Court, Edward Street, Brighton (Telephone (01273) 670888) at around 9.30am on any weekday and present it to the Clerk of the Court. Explain you wish to make a complaint under Section 82 of the Environmental Protection Act 1990. 
  5. the Clerk will decide whether or not you have sufficient evidence of a statutory nuisance. If you have, the Clerk will issue a Court Summons and fix a hearing date for approximately 4-6 weeks time. (You may have to pay a fee for this). 
  6. you, any witnesses and the person(s) summonsed must appear at the Court on the given date. In Court you will be required to explain your case, produce your diary and any witnesses. The 'offender' will be able to cross-examine you if he wishes. 
  7. if the Magistrates are convinced you have a case then an Order will be made requiring the defendant to abate the nuisance, and prohibiting its reoccurrence. In addition a fine may also be imposed. 
  8. if the Order is ignored you must keep further records and if necessary return to the Court with your evidence for a prosecution. Fines of up to £5,000 may then be imposed. 
  9. if you are successful you may apply to the Court for costs against the defendant to cover any costs you may have incurred.

Contact the Magistrates Court on (01273) 670888 or visit Brighton & Hove Magistrates Court, Edward Street, Brighton for further advice.


Contacting us

If you would like advice or information from an Environmental Health Officer, you can telephone us on (01273) 292929. Alternatively, you can call into:

Brighton Town Hall
Street map: Bartholomew Square


Hove Town Hall
Street map: HoveTown Hall

If you need to contact someone out of office hours, an emergency service is available on (01273) 292229.