Cock-a-doodle…don’t? What the law says about perturbing pets

An unfortunate couple in France have recently had to pay a €1,000 fine after attempting to sue a neighbour for their noisy cockerel, who would celebrate the arrival of dawn at 6am every day.

25th September 2019

After a lengthy case, a court has ruled that the cockerel should not have to be silenced and handed out the fine for “disrespecting” the rooster. An unfortunate result for them in many ways; a fine coupled with the continuance of the early morning wake-up calls.

So where does UK law stand with noisy pets? Damien Field, Legal Adviser at DAS Law explains all…

What are the laws surrounding noise from neighbours pets and animals?

Both statue and common law cover noise nuisance. The Environmental Protection act 1990 and Noise act 1996 create a statutory nuisance for levels of noise above a permitted level. Under the common law of tort a person can bring a civil claim in nuisance for a continuous activity that is causing a substantial and unreasonable interference with the use and enjoyment of a person’s land.

Is there a legal limit on the level of noise allowed?

Yes there is a legal limit for noise but this is dependent on the underlying noise level. For example, if the underlying noise level is less than 24dBA then the noise level cannot exceed 34dBA. A lot of local authorities provide devices, or access to mobile phone applications, allowing you to record noise levels to determine if they are higher than permitted.

Further guidance can be found at the government’s website.

What can I do if my neighbours' pets/animals are constantly making noise?

In the first instance it would be worth speaking with the neighbour to see if there is anything they can do to stop the noise. The nuisance can be reported to the council who may investigate and take enforcement action.

If the local authority is unwilling to become involved then a criminal nuisance claim can be started under S82 Environmental Protection act. Alternatively there is also the option of bringing a civil nuisance claim for an injunction and damages.

Can I sue for damages if the noise is disturbing myself and kids sleep, peace and quiet?

Yes, damages may be awarded for discomfort. In the recent case of Fouladi v Darout Ltd the claimant was awarded £100,000 for the noise nuisance suffered. Each case will however revolve around its own facts and awards that will vary dependant on the severity of the situation.

Are there laws around which animals are allowed to be kept at a house?

Under the Dangerous Dogs Act 1991 the keeping of certain types of dogs is prohibited. There is also the Dangerous Wild Animals Act 1976 where certain animals are deemed wild and/or dangerous and therefore require a licence to keep. These can range from wild cats to primates as well as certain pigs.

Disclaimer: This information is for general guidance regarding rights and responsibilities and is not formal legal advice as no lawyer-client relationship has been created. Note that the information was accurate at the time of publication but laws may have since changed.

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