'Carpets not legal action' to solve neighbour dispute
A £140,000 court case could have been avoided with "a moderate degree of carpeting", a senior judge has said.
Appeal court judges pleaded for "give and take" after ruling on a row over noise made by a family walking on the wooden floor of a central London flat.
They said "a skilled mediator" could have prevented the case reaching court.
Hameed and Inam Faidi, of Cliveden Place, Belgravia, failed in their legal action against the company which held the lease on the flat above theirs.
The couple complained the "normal activities" of the people living above were disturbing because the flat had a wooden floor.
'Enjoy their floor'
But Mr and Mrs Faidi did not persuade judges to order that the £100,000 wooden floor be covered with carpet.
Lord Justice Ward, Lord Justice Lloyd and Lord Justice Jackson rejected an appeal by the Faidis against a county court judge's dismissal of their attempt to "enforce a covenant in the lease".
"This case concerns a dispute between neighbours which should have been capable of sensible resolution without recourse to the courts," said Lord Justice Jackson.
"A moderate degree of carpeting in flat 8 might reduce the noise penetrating into flat 6 and still enable the occupants of flat 8 to enjoy their new wooden floor.
"This is precisely the sort of outcome which a skilled mediator could achieve but which the court will not impose.
"In neighbour disputes of this kind now before the court (and of which I have seen many similar examples) if negotiation fails, mediation is the obvious and constructive way forward."
'Land of bigotry'
He added: "The total costs thrown away amount to £140,134. If the parties were driven by concern for the wellbeing of lawyers, they could have given half that sum to the Solicitors Benevolent Association and then resolved their dispute for a modest fraction of the monies left over."
Lord Justice Ward and Lord Justice Lloyd agreed.
"Not all neighbours are from hell," added Lord Justice Ward, in a written judgment. "They may simply occupy the land of bigotry.
"There may be no escape from hell but the boundaries of bigotry can, with tact, be changed by the cutting edge of reasonableness skilfully applied by a trained negotiator.
"Give and take is often better than all or nothing."