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Smelly BBQ's - Does your BBQ stink?

Does your BBQ Stink? 

I read a story in a newspaper about an Australian case where a vegan had taken her neighbours to Court to try and stop them from – among other things – having a BBQ in their backyard. 

The vegan plaintiff claimed to be fed up with the smell of meat and fish cooking on the BBQ next door. The plaintiff alleged that she was unable to enjoy her own backyard due to the cooking odours from the neighbouring property. 

Unsurprisingly, the neighbours found the plaintiff’s case to be unreasonable. Also, unsurprisingly, the Australian Courts agreed with the neighbours and kicked the case out of the Court. 

Although most Kiwis would find such a claim absurd (and funny), there are certain circumstances where it may have merit. 

The law deals with these types of allegations under the law of Nuisance. A legal nuisance arises when an activity on one person’s property causes damage or unduly interferes with the enjoyment of another person’s land. 

A nuisance can occur by an act of a defendant, or it may arise from the defendant’s failure to prevent something occurring on their land.  

It is not difficult to see then how the vegan plaintiff could bring her allegation.  If she could have proved the activity of the barbequing neighbours was unduly interfering with her enjoyment of her land, she may have had a valid claim. 

More likely, however, claims for nuisance will occur in situations between neighbours when one neighbour, for example, wishes to burn rubbish in the backyard, or the like.  There are famous nuisance cases with one neighbour burning trees and the fire spreading to neighbouring land causing damage.  

Nuisance claims also arise when one neighbour fails to trim trees on their property and branches and leaves continuously drop onto the neighbouring land. 

Realistically, there are many ways to frame a nuisance claim.  In a nutshell, if your neighbour is acting “like a nuisance”, it may well be that you have a valid claim in nuisance.   While we would not be advising our clients to sue their neighbours for having BBQ’s, it certainly would be worth discussing the neighbour’s behaviour with your lawyer if they are acting in such a way that is preventing you from reasonably using your land. 

There are several ways to resolve these matters without legal proceedings.  For example, loud neighbours or continuous parties would certainly be a nuisance at law, but Noise Control and Police would be the appropriate remedy in cases like this. Court is a last resort, designed to protect your rights if other (easier) options are not available. 

If you wish to bring a claim for a smelly BBQ – or any other possible nuisance – please contact your local lawyer to discuss.

  • Posted By: Graham Day on Fri, 4th Oct 2019 @ 11:23:38

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