Dealing with Noise Nuisance in France
- Definition of Noise Nuisance
- Negotiation and Mediation
- Police Intervention
- Criminal Proceedings
- Civil Proceedings
- Commercial Noise
5. Taking Civil Proceedings
Given the deficiencies of the criminal process outlined in the previous pages, more often than not a complainant needs to bring a civil action instead of trying to invoke the public authorities to act.
However, there is no reason why the two cannot run in tandem.
The legal test for noise nuisance in civil cases is whether or not the noise is ‘abnormal’.
The courts take the view that neighbours need to have a degree of tolerance towards one another and that a certain level of disturbance is a normal part of daily life.
Whether or not the noise is abnormal will depend on the circumstances in each case, including the location of the property, whether in town or country.
Proof of nuisance needs to be provided by all means possible, notably the evidence of witnesses.
This is particularly important in relation to intermittent noise problems, where the attendance of a public official or police is not always possible.
It is also important to keep a full written record of the incidents.
You are best advised to seek the advice and assistance of the local huissier to help provide independent evidence in support of your complaint.
Before you think about engaging an avocat to defend you, or bring a legal action, you may want to consider making use of the legal advice service available in legal advice centres that have been created in most of the départements of France. The services of these centres are often free of charge.
The service is called Conseil Départemental de l'Accès au Droit (CDAD).
Most of the CDAD offer times and days in the week when a either an avocat, huissier or notaire is present to offer advice.
In addition, they have other staff who may be able to assist or provide you with the contact details of an organisation who can provide you with further advice.
Most CDAD have created interesting and informative websites provided, of course, you can understand French!
Where you are seeking damages not exceeding €4000 then the case can be heard by a local court (juge de proximité) where the use of an avocat is not obligatory.
Between €4000 and €10000 the case is heard by a Tribunal d’instance where an avocat is not obligatory, but is recommended.
Above this figure the case is heard by a Tribunal de grande instance where the use of an avocat is necessary.
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