Back in 2016, the Tate Modern museum opened a viewing gallery giving visitors a panoramic view of London. This was opened some time after a block of flats was built. Some of the flats command prices of £2m. An unintended side-effect is that the gallery also gave a view of the inside of the neighbouring flats which happened to have floor to ceiling glass walls.
Unfortunately, some gallery visitors saw fit to make obscene gestures and photograph people in their homes which prompted a claim by some of the flat owners against the museum. They argued that the viewing gallery was a nuisance which infringed their right to privacy under the Human Rights Act. They sought an injunction to try to stop members of the public looking into their flats.
They lost their original claim on the basis that in a city environment, flat owners could be expected to make some compromises in terms of privacy. The court accepted that the common law of nuisance is capable of being extended to protect the privacy of the home against another property owner but that argument was not made out in this case.
The Court of Appeal has just dismissed the matter and has refused permission to appeal to the Supreme Court. Mere overlooking does not fall within the law of nuisance and the court confirmed that to mitigate the problem, the flat owners could lower their solar blinds or install privacy film or net curtains.
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