Damages in Nuisance and under the Protection From Harassment Act 1997 – Diminution in Property Value

Article by Trevor Berriman

Claimants seeking an injunction to prevent acts of nuisance or harassment under the Protection From Harassment Act 1997 often make a claim for damages to compensate for the distress that has been caused.

Damages claims for harassment, alarm and distress are usually pleaded at a relatively low value; claimants are primarily seeking the protection to be gained from achieving a final injunction and the damages claim is simply included as a matter of course.

Reported court awards of damages for general inconvenience and distress also tend to be modest.

It is possible, however, to make a claim for diminution in the value of property in cases where neighbours have committed acts of nuisance and harassment.

The case of Raymond v Young [2015] EWCA Civ 456 involved just this point.

In Raymond v Young it was held by the Court of Appeal that the Judge in the Court below had been entitled to make an award for diminution in value of the claimants’ property caused by nuisance, despite the grant of a permanent injunction restraining the defendants from further acts of nuisance. At first instance, however, the Court had made an additional award of damages for distress and loss of amenity.  The Court of Appeal held that the lower Court was wrong to have done so as it amounted to double recovery.


The appellants appealed against a decision awarding damages in favour of the respondents for diminution in the value of their property.

The appellants owned a cottage, and the respondents owned an adjacent farmhouse. The farmhouse had originally been owned by the father of the first appellant, but it had been sold on the father’s retirement. It was eventually purchased by the respondents as a holiday home.

At trial, the Court made a finding of fact that the appellants had been responsible for continuous acts of harassment, trespass and nuisance against the respondents over a period of many years. Those acts included obstructing the respondents’ driveway, vandalising their property, burning noxious materials causing smoke, dumping rubbish, and physical intimidation.

The Court also made a finding of fact that the acts of harassment and nuisance were motivated by resentment at the respondents’ acquisition of the farm as a weekend home.

The Court granted a permanent injunction to prevent further nuisance and made a financial composite award of £20,000 for distress and loss of amenity.  

The Court further found that the appellants’ actions had caused a diminution in the value of the farm of 20 per cent, amounting to £155,000 and a further award in that sum was made.

On appeal, it was considered relevant whether the nuisance was transitory or time limited.  If so, the measure of damages should reflect the diminution in the value of the right to live in the property during the relevant period only.

In Raymond v Young however, the recorder had found that the appellants’ conduct could not be described as transitory, and that it was likely to continue to be a facet of the First Appellant’s character and behaviour, so far as not restrained by the injunction. Therefore, the grant of a permanent injunction was not likely to be treated by a potential purchaser as a guarantee that they would not be subjected to the same treatment.

The benefit of the injunction was said to be personal to the respondents and, on any sale of the property, the protection that the injunction afforded would end. 

The Court of Appeal therefore held that the Judge below was entitled to make an award of £155,000 for diminution in value calculated on the basis that the threat of a nuisance to future purchasers would continue.

It was held to be wrong to have awarded damages of £20,000 for loss of amenity along with the full measure of capital loss of £155,000. That amounted to double recovery, as the sums were alternative methods of calculating the diminution in value of the respondents’ property. If damages were awarded for loss of capital value, then damages for loss of amenity were excluded and it was not appropriate to make separate awards of damages for distress in cases of nuisance.

Claimants should ensure that any claim for damages based on acts of nuisance or harassment are not duplicitous.  If a diminution in value claim is available to a claimant, it may result in a much higher award of damages than what may have been achieved solely in a damages for harassment claim.