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Dealing with Noise Nuisance in France


  1. Definition of Noise Nuisance
  2. Negotiation and Mediation
  3. Police Intervention
  4. Criminal Proceedings
  5. Civil Proceedings
  6. Commercial Noise

1. Definition of Noise Nuisance

There is no clear legal definition of what constitutes statutory ‘noise nuisance’ arising from the lifestyle of neighbours.

The law merely specifies certain circumstances where noise nuisance might arise, which may be considered ‘unnecessary, uncaring or aggressive’.

Examples given in the legislation include a barking dog, loud music, DIY, domestic electrical equipment, fireworks, ventilation, or air conditioning equipment. It also includes noise complaints about the French national symbol, the cockerel!

In law, a noise is considered excessive if it is likely to disturb the peace of neighbours or their health by their ‘duration, repetition or their intensity’.

Anyone one of the above three criteria is sufficient for a potential nuisance to be caused.

The rule applies irrespective of the time of day or night. Therefore, although a neighbour may feel it reasonable to play loud music up to say 11pm in the evening, the law makes no concession as to the time at which the noise nuisance occurred.

Local authorities can also fix times during which DIY can be undertaken, and during which noisy equipment in the garden can be used, outside of which a nuisance is considered to arise. However, this practice normally only applies in urban areas

Sadly, however, those causing a noise nuisance are only liable to a fine of up to €450 in the criminal court, and possible (though rarely) confiscation of the offending item.

Given that the level of the fine is so low, a complainant is often obliged to bring a civil action to bring about full resolution of the problem.

Only if it could be demonstrated that a neighbour was deliberately and maliciously causing a noise nuisance could the punishment be greater, including the possibility of a prison sentence.

Given that the level of the fine is so low, a complainant is often obliged to bring a civil action to bring about full resolution of the problem.


Next: Negotiation and Mediation





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