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Legal and the Law in Spain

Town hall fined for fiesta noise that disturbed neighbour

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Parties and fiestas are commonplace around Spain, and whereas many town halls enforce mandatory noise rules on entertainment venues in their jurisdiction, they fail to apply the same rules when it comes to their own celebrations, which could now prove problematic after a court case has ruled in favour of a complainant.

The Superior Court of Xustiza of Galicia (TSXG) has condemned the Vigo City Council for violating the fundamental rights to personal and family privacy and the inviolability of the home of a neighbour in the city centre due to the noise caused during the Christmas celebration of the year 2022-2023.

The magistrates have decreed that they adopt “the necessary measures” to avoid “the repetition of his conduct that is harmful to fundamental rights” and to guarantee “that the levels of external and internal noise do not exceed the thresholds set by the applicable regulations.” In addition, they have imposed compensation of 600 euro on the plaintiff for the damages caused.

The third section of the Contentious-Administrative Chamber of the Galician High Court has partially upheld the appeal filed by the resident against the ruling of the Contentious-Administrative Court number 1 of Vigo that dismissed the claim filed against the City Council for the noise caused by the Christmas themed market and the amusement park located in the vicinity of her home between November 20, 2022 and January 16, 2023.

The woman requested compensation of 1,640 euro, equivalent at the rental price of a home with the same characteristics and situation during that period, but the TSXG has set it at 600 euro.

The Chamber considers it proven that “the noise suffered by the appellant was persistent, since its continuity lasted (during the permitted hours) for practically two months, and was intense because it exceeded the permitted legal limits.” The affected person, according to the sentence, “had to carry out her daily life with her two young children – 1 and 3 years old -, living with a noise that exceeded the limits of what was permitted.”

The magistrates of the Galician high court emphasise that all of this “could lead to a potential impact on people’s health”, while highlighting that “it implies a deterioration in the development of personality, by making it impossible to carry out daily life, which “violates the fundamental rights reported as violated.”

Furthermore, they affirm that the City Council “remained inactive regarding the noise pollution that was occurring, which is exclusively attributable to the local entity, which is the one that had control of the emitting source at all times, as the giver of the corresponding authorisations to celebrate leisure activity and responsible for its supervision.” The TSXG recalls that “there is a duty of the public powers to guarantee us the enjoyment of our rest and minimum tranquillity, according to the circumstances, and there should be no doubt for the local entity that the legal interest that must be prevalent, the most worthy of protection “, is the right of citizens to not receive annoying noise, as an expression of a decent quality of life.”

The sentence is not final, since an appeal can be filed before the Supreme Court.

 

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