Jargon Buster – “Serving Notice”

Serving noise abatement notices

Noise Abatement Notices – Service Please!

Sometimes when you speak to officials and enforcers they often use terms, phrases and code that is unfamiliar to everyday folk. Here at noisenuisance.org we try to empower victims; and one of the ways we do that is by providing expert knowledge that can be used without needing a doctorate in gobbledegook to understand it. In this post we explain the term “serving notice” in relation to abatement notices.

Statutory notices are used by law enforcers for a wide range of different purposes. Most will require the person (or company) receiving the notice to do something within a specified time period, alongside a threat of a fine or criminal proceedings if they fail to comply with the terms of the notice.

When Noise Becomes a Crime

Noise abatement notices are served by local authority environmental health departments when they are satisfied that a statutory nuisance exists (or is likely to occur or recur). They are served on the person responsible for the noise (usually the person or company making the noise). They will require the statutory nuisance (noise) to be abated or restricted and may include steps that must be taken to achieve compliance (such as restrictions on sound levels or times of operation). They will also include a time limit for abatement (which in many cases can be immediately). Where the recipient fails to comply with the terms of the notice they may face prosecution and a significant fine.

A notice may be appealed by the recipient. In England this will be via the magistrates’ court in the first instance (with a second chance of appeal at Crown Court).

Drafting a notice is not as simple as printing off a standard template (as you would expect with a parking ticket). Some minor issues may be tolerated by an understanding magistrate or judge. However, it is not uncommon for a seemingly simple and inoffensive notice to be quashed due to a small informality or error. The costs to the Council in such cases can be considerable; so it is really important that notices are considered carefully before service. The way it is served is also important.

Having a notice served on the perpetrator will often be good news to the victim. They will know that the recipient has been given a formal “last chance” warning and will be reassured that their complaint is being taken seriously by the local authority. Getting to that point may be difficult though. Stay positive and make use of the many resources provided in our Tutorial (which will help get you to that point more quickly).

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