While English courts are generally viewed as rather buttoned down and proper, a trial last week was rated strictly adults only. The Newcastle Crown Court played a recording of Caroline and Steve Cartwright having sex in a novel nuisance case. Neighbors have complained that the couple is a bit vocal in their amorous moments.
This is the find of one of my students who sent it along since we are doing nuisance this week. This certainly extends the range of activities that reduce the use and enjoyment of a neighbor’s property.
The court ultimately banned Mrs. Cartwright from making loud noises during sex after she lost an appeal. I am not sure how the court expects to either police or enforce this particular ban.
A local postman and a mother complained about the noise, which is a daily occurrence and often lasted for hours. Cartwright, 48, insisted that her vocalization was protected by the right to “respect for her private and family life” under Article 8 of the Human Rights Act.
However, Recorder Jeremy Freedman, sitting with two magistrates, stated that “We are in no doubt whatsoever about the level of noise that can be heard in neighbouring properties, in the street and in the back lane. . . .It certainly was intrusive and constituted a statutory nuisance. It was clearly of a very disturbing nature and it was also compounded by the duration – this was not a one-off, it went on for hours at a time. . . .It is further compounded by the frequency of the episode, virtually every night.”
Next door neighbour Rachel O’Connor complained that she often would be late to work due to her sleep deprivation caused by the noise, which she described to that court as sounding “like they are both in considerable pain. I cannot describe the noise. I have never ever heard anything like it.” The local council recorded the noise at 47 decibels.
What is interesting is that the decibels appear within the EPA recommendations:
Noise levels for various areas are identified according to the use of the area. Levels of 45 decibels are associated with indoor residential areas, hospitals and schools, whereas 55 decibels is identified for certain outdoor areas where human activity takes place. The level of 70 decibels is identified for all areas in order to prevent hearing loss.
Ms. Cartwright is now the subject of an abatement order that is normally imposed on things like construction equipment.
It also appears that injunctive relief might have been sought in Harry Met Sally:
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