A recent decision in the High Court has shed further light on the Courts’ position regarding claims being pursued for loss of view and privacy.
There is a long accepted principle in England and Wales that a property does not have an inherent right to a view. Similarly, there is no action under common law for an invasion of privacy. Article 8 of the Human Rights Act 1998 sets down a right to respect for private and family life but this is only enforceable where the interference of this right is by a public authority.
The law of nuisance
So what can you do about persistent onlookers or developments which overlook your property? The law of nuisance in some circumstances may offer some protection.
The general principles of the law of nuisance require there to be an unlawful or unreasonable interference with the use or enjoyment of land or some right over it.
When considering whether there is an actionable nuisance, the court will consider the following factors:
- The locality;
- The sensitivity of the claimant;
- The utility of the defendant’s conduct; and
- The state of the defendant’s land.
The price of privacy
In the recent case of Neo Bankside Residents v Tate Gallery, Mr Justice Mann dismissed a claim by the owners of four flats that a panoramic viewing platform at the Tate Modern gallery created a nuisance and infringed their Article 8 right to privacy under the Human Rights Act.
This case highlights the importance of considering the nature and locality of the claimants’ properties when deciding if there is an actionable nuisance. The claimants’ properties were largely glass-walled and part of the Neo Bankside flats. With the extension of the Tate Modern viewing gallery, visitors to the gallery could now see into the claimants’ properties. Whilst the judge visited the properties and had found that the intrusion from visitors to the Tate walkway was material, the judge made particular note that the flats were in an inner city urban environment where an occupier ‘can expect to live quite cheek by jowl with neighbours’. While the properties could be deemed ‘impressive’ and it was reasonable to see why this would have compelled the claimants’ to buy their properties, it came ‘at a price in terms of privacy’.
So it seems the law of nuisance can apply where a view is blocked or there is an interference with privacy, however it will fall on the facts of the case as to whether it is unreasonable by its nature and whether this will justify legal remedy.
For more information or advice, please get in touch with our Property Litigation team on 029 2267 5560.