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Noise pollution from entertainment venues

law books

A court may order that noise pollution be prohibited, except at the times and volume permitted by a licence from the competent authority

 

The operation of an entertainment venue requires a licence from the competent authority which, when examining an application, takes into account the views of competent bodies and the owners or occupiers of residences within a short distance of the venue. Its operation is inherently a nuisance activity due to the noise it causes during its operating hours.

The competent authority, relevant municipality or district officer should avoid licensing an entertainment venue in purely residential areas, since it will adversely affect the life, comfort, health and enjoyment of their property of the residents of the area. When an operation licence and an audio broadcast licence are issued, the relevant authority is obliged, either of its own accord or following a complaint, to inspect and ensure adherence to the audio broadcast licence’s terms and, where appropriate, reduce the prescribed limits of the audio broadcast.

Having a licence does not exempt the owner or occupier from their obligation to avoid causing nuisance and in particular nuisance from broadcasting increased sound volume. The existence of a licence or the scope of acts of the administration do not constitute a defence and do not preclude the possibility of a claim for damages or other remedy for nuisance, as underlined by the District Court of Limassol in its judgement issued on September 5, in an application for a prohibitive order.

An owner of a residence near an entertainment venue issued an action against the venue’s occupier claiming damages and orders precluding the venue from operating in a way causing nuisance through the use of loudspeakers and affecting the enjoyment of his residence due to increased volume. Simultaneously, through an application, he claimed and secured a temporary interim order prohibiting the occupier from using loudspeakers between the hours of 11:30pm and 5am beyond certain volume limits.

The court examining the conditions for the issuance of a prohibitory order, referenced article 46 of the Civil Wrongs Law, Cap.148, which provides that a private nuisance involves any person conducting themself or their business or using any immovable property of which they are the owner or occupier to interfere with the reasonable use and enjoyment of the immovable property of any other person. A plaintiff is not entitled to recover compensation in respect to any private nuisance unless they have suffered damages. Nuisance, as the court added, could be created through noise. The reduction in the standard of living, the use and enjoyment of the plaintiff’s residence could be considered a loss. Therefore, the curt held that the issue raised by the plaintiff was actionable.

In addition, the court remarked, it is not precluded that a person can claim damages for loss incurred or an order prohibiting a conduct contrary to Law 50(Ι)/2016 or to Law 29/1985 or to any other law or a conduct which does not comply with the existing legal framework applying to the broadcasting of sound. Article 6 of Law 50(Ι)/2016 provides for a procedure for submitting a complaint to the competent authority, as well as for penalties and administrative fines. As the court held, the entitlement of the plaintiff to submit a complaint does not annul the possibility of success in the plaintiff’s action for damages or for remedies to contain the nuisance.

The court concluded that the plaintiff established that his right to enjoy a peaceful environment in the home he resides in with his family is threatened with substantial alteration the venue, which by its nature causes nuisance, since it also broadcasts sound from loudspeakers. The court granted an injunction prohibiting the defendant from broadcasting sound outside the venue using loudspeakers, except at the times and volume permitted by the audio broadcasting licence of the relevant authority.

 

George Coucounis is a lawyer practising in Larnaca and the founder of George Coucounis LLC, Advocates & Legal Consultants, [email protected]

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