Justin Bieber has recently made the news for all the wrong reasons, with allegations of eggs being thrown at his neighbour’s property. His neighbour, obviously upset by the situation, called the local Police.
Whilst this alleged incident occurred in the United States it may well have occurred at some point between neighbours in England or Wales. For arguments sake, if a homeowner in Lancashire continued to throw eggs at his neighbour’s property, that neighbour may have a civil claim for harassment.
Disputes between neighbours can arise out of a number of different incidents; admittedly egg throwing is a very rare one. More commonly harassment cases run alongside other neighbour disputes. The original cause of action could be a claim for trespass, right of way or nuisance.
More recently we took on a case regarding a potential harassment following a planning application decision. This case also included a potential deformation claim in the High Court. In any event, the Harassment Act 1997 prohibits a person or group of people from knowingly perusing a course of conduct that caused alarm or distress to an individual. The course of conduct taken by the harasser must be unwanted, oppressive and or unacceptable.
The harassed individual may be able to start a court case to seek an injunction to prevent the individual from harassing them in the future. They may also be able to seek damages from the individual if the harassment caused anxiety and/or any financial loss.
Should a neighbour without reasonable excuse do anything which he is prohibited from doing by the injunction; he is guilty of a criminal offence. The neighbour could then face punishment in the Magistrates Court with up to six months imprisonment, and/or a £5000 fine.
A civil claim for harassment is a very serious thing – we recommend that legal advice is taken at the earliest opportunity. A simple conversation between neighbours may be all that is needed to resolve the issues. These conversations can often avoid future relationships from breaking down and minimise the potential for large legal fees.