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Court sides with chickens in dispute over noisy henhouse

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Court sides with chickens in dispute over noisy henhouse
File photo: Stuart Richards
12:31 CEST+02:00
A court in the canton of Vaud has ordered a man to pay more than 36,000 francs in court costs after it rejected his complaint that his neighbours’ chickens made too much noise.

The saga dates back to 2010, when a couple bought a chalet in a rural area above Montreux with the intention of keeping chickens on its 4,000m2 parcel of land, reported 24 Heures on Wednesday.

Before buying the place the couple – named as Anouk and Philippe Michauville – checked they were able to keep chickens there and the commune confirmed they could, as long as their number didn’t surpass 2,000, said the paper.

But in 2012 a lawyer on behalf of their neighbour served them ten days’ notice to put an end to the “racket” made by the cockerels and hens.

The neighbour owned a place 50m above the couple’s chalet but actually lived in Zug and was only ever there a few weeks a year, the Michauvilles told the paper.

They did nothing to respond to the order, considering it an absurd request in a rural area, said the paper. But the following spring they received another legal letter on behalf of the neighbour claiming the noisy birds reduced the value of his house and demanding 97,000 francs in damages.

Despite keeping their cockerels inside at night to prevent them crowing, the row continued and went to a court hearing in March, where a number of measures were considered in an effort to resolve the dispute.

The neighbour agreed to renounce his claim for damages if the couple gave up their henhouse. But they refused, said 24 Heures.

Finally, six months after the hearing, the civil court rejected the neighbour’s case last week, ordering him to pay 21,642 francs in legal costs and 15,000 francs expenses.

He has not yet decided if he will appeal, reported the paper.

The issue of noise in the countryside crops up in Switzerland from time to time.

In May this year a farmer in the Zurich Oberland lost his appeal over his neighbours' complaints that the bells on his cows were too noisy at night.

The farmer was ordered to remove bells from any cow located within 200m of a house during the hours of 10pm and 7am.

At the time the farmer told the media he was ready to fight the issue in the supreme court.

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