The court heard that the farmhouse had originally been owned by the family causing the trouble. They had sold it when the father had reached retirement. They retained the next-door cottage.
The farmhouse was eventually bought by a couple who used it as their holiday home.
The neighbours resented this and started to carry out acts of harassment against the couple over a number of years.
Those acts included physical intimidation, obstructing the couple’s driveway, vandalising their property, burning noxious materials causing smoke, and dumping rubbish. The recorder hearing the case found that the acts were motivated by the resentment at the farm being used as a weekend home.
The recorder granted a permanent injunction to prevent further nuisance. He awarded the couple £20,000 for distress and loss of amenity. He also found that the neighbours’ actions had reduced the value of the farm by 20% and awarded the couple £155,000 in compensation.
The neighbours appealed on the grounds that the compensation for the loss of value was unnecessary as the injunction would prevent any further acts of harassment.
The Court of Appeal said the award should stand because potential buyers might be worried that the harassment would resume in spite of the injunction and so that would continue to reduce the value of the farmhouse.
However, the court did overturn the additional award of £20,000 for loss of amenity as that was compensating the couple twice for the same problem.
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