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Noise > Funding Legal Actions 1
In a legal action you must think carefully about the costs.  Before embarking on any legal action be aware that they can be very expensive, especially if you lose the action; you may have kept tight control of your own costs, but if you lose, you may well have to pay some, or all, of the opposition's costs, and they could amount to a relatively modest amount if they used a solicitor for a few hours or a very large amount if they used a top flight barrister for a few weeks.

The main sources of funding are

  • Your own money 
  • Standard Legal Aid - for statutory nuisance prosecutions and civil actions
  • Green Form Legal Aid - for actions under Section 82 of EPA 1990
  • Household Insurance Policies
  • Costs in Criminal Cases (General) Regulations 1986

If we discuss each of the options in turn, but before doing so, please read our terms and conditions, and treat the following information as the basis of discussions with your legal advisors.

Using Your Own Money

This option is fairly simple.  The main advantages are that you have total control of the case, but depending on who you are the "other side" may start to rely on the fact that it can spend more money than you can, irrespective of the merits of the case.  For example lets say that there are 50 households affected by noise from a site owned by a multinational company, and a single privately funded household takes action against the site; the multinational would probably be keen to deter all the households from taking action; it would be able to delay matters and boost their own costs by say employing a large legal team and calling many witnesses, so that the single household would fear the consequences of loosing; it may be that the householder would eventually be prepared to settle for a modest sum and sign a non-disclosure agreement.   Even if you are using your own money partial funding may be available under The Costs in Criminal Cases Regulations (see below).

Standard Legal Aid

Recently the availability of legal aid has become more limited, and now it appears that only persons of very modest means are entitled, you will need to consult a solicitor probably one who holds a legal aid franchise for the relevant area of work.  The main advantage of legal aid is that your own costs or paid for, and if the action is lost, we understand that the other side is unlikely to obtain a order for their own costs; therefore there is a strong incentive for them to settle the action.

There have been statutory nuisance appeals where legal aid has been granted, possibly in error, but the main actions where legal aid is used are either defending prosecutions for failure to comply with noise abatement notices or residents taking an action under common law for noise nuisance.

Green Form Legal Aid

The DETR website states that Legal Aid is not available for actions taken by persons aggrieved by the existence of a statutory nuisance, i.e. Section 82 of the Environmental Protection Act .  "However, you may be financially eligible under the 'Green Form Scheme' and this will provide free legal advice and assistance in the preparation of your case."  Even if you are eligible, you must check whether this means that you may have to pay the other side's costs if the case is lost, and how the costs of the court case itself will be paid.

Many cases each year are taken under Section 82 using Green Form Legal Aid, although they mainly relate to premises in such a state as to be prejudicial to health by virtue of say dampness, rather than noise.

Household Insurance

When taking out an household insurance policy it is often an extra cost option (sometimes it is already included) for the policy to cover legal actions relating to the property, for example a dispute with a neighbour; however the dispute could relate to noise or vibration.  Equally it is possible for businesses to take out policies which cover certain forms of legal action.  If a noise nuisance arises you should check the terms of any insurance policies to see if the costs of a legal action are covered.  Equally when taking out a policy consider paying for the legal actions cover.

 Costs in Criminal Cases Regs Funding 2 >>>

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