Home London Tate Modern privacy ruling ‘shocking’ but should not worry London developers, legal...

Tate Modern privacy ruling ‘shocking’ but should not worry London developers, legal expert says



he Supreme CourtThe decision to go to the side of residents who claim to Tate Modernthe viewing platform encroaches on them confidentiality shocks, but will not open the floodgates for similar cases, says a legal expert.

In an an unprecedented decision on WednesdaySupreme Court justices ruled 3-2 that visual intrusion can be a form of nuisance, along with lasting forms such as noise, vibration and dust.

Some legal experts have warned that city developers will now have to “think carefully” about balconies and roof gardens, while others suggest that neighbors may try to use the decision to fight the intrusion of security cameras.

But James Souter, a partner at law firm Charles Russell Speechlys, told the Standard there was “no serious argument here”.

Residents of the Neo Bankside development on LondonSouth Bank has launched legal action against the gallery’s board of trustees in a bid to stop “hundreds of thousands of visitors” peering into their homes from the Tate’s observation deck.

The free public viewing gallery, installed on the 10th floor in 2016, was visited by an estimated 500,000 to 600,000 people during the year of the trial, with some posting photos on social media.

The five residents lost their case at the High Court and Court of Appeal, taking the case to the UK’s highest court in December 2021.

In a landmark ruling, Supreme Court judge Lord Leggett said: “It is not difficult to imagine how depressing life under such circumstances would be for any ordinary person – akin to being on display at a zoo.”

Speaking to the Standard, legal expert James Souter said the decision was shocking.

“I think a lot of people expected the nuisance law to stay the way it was. There will be a big surprise.

“The Supreme Court has held that any activity by someone, no matter what it is, can potentially give rise to legal trouble if it causes a sufficient amount of interference with your use and enjoyment of your home.”

Mr Souter said there was no such decision before.

“Until today, it was not clear that the nuisance encompassed visual intrusion. As of this morning, it is clear what will happen.”

But Mr Souter said city developers needn’t worry about similar claims being made by other residents.

“The Supreme Court has made it very clear that in a peculiar modern urban landscape, buildings will stand side by side, people will live side by side, and someone will look out of the window of their building into the window of the neighboring building. enough intensity of vision penetration to be legal [case].

“So I think it’s not going to stop property development in London or anywhere else in the country.

He added: “There’s no serious argument about gateways here, we don’t have to worry about urban development.”

Mr Souter said the residents of Neo Bankside had an “extreme incident” with tens of thousands of people visiting the Tate viewing platform each year and it was “hard to imagine” something like this would happen.

But he said the Supreme Court’s ruling could spark a flurry of “noisy neighbor cases” involving surveillance video cameras and video calls, in which plaintiffs could try to use the visual intrusion defense.

“I guess you can expect a flurry of people who might want to take advantage of the case and the law will evolve. The Supreme Court has made it very clear [that] nuisance can protect against anything that amounts to an interference with the enjoyment of one’s home.

“But it’s very clear that the bar is high.”

Residents should expect some activity in their neighborhood, depending on where they live in London, Mr Scouter said.

“The reality is that in a normal neighborhood context, it’s very unlikely to have any consequences.”

Laura Odlind, real estate partner at Mishcon de Reya, said the ruling “opens the way” for neighbors to take legal action “they can show that their neighbours’ use of their property goes beyond normal use and affects the amenity of their property”, e.g. , the use of video surveillance cameras.

Martin Thomas, real estate partner at law firm Gowling WLG, said the decision would have a “significant impact” on buildings with public viewing galleries that are not directly related to the use of the property.

“A London Eye-style building is fine, but art galleries, museums and restaurants with ancillary observation decks will have to rethink their position,” he said.

Meanwhile, Jessica Dick, of Cripps, said the decision is “likely to force developers, particularly those working in cities like London, to think more carefully about adding features such as balconies and roof gardens to non-residential buildings, such as office blocks, in case they overlook neighboring residents.’


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