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New powers for state inspectors after woman wins noise pollution case

Udovičić v. Croatia |2014

New powers for state inspectors after woman wins noise pollution case

My wife and I became the target. When they got drunk, the guests of the café would pound on our doors, break the windows…

Ljubica’s Udovičić’s husband, Bože, quoted on Večernji list

Background 

Ljubica Udovičić’s life became a misery when her neighbour decided to transform the property directly beneath her apartment into a bar and shop.

Ljubica first complained to the authorities when her neighbour started making major changes to the building, like demolishing supporting walls. She said that she was then shut out of the decision-making process and her many complaints to the authorities were not properly dealt with.

For more than ten years, Ljubica and her family had to deal with excessive noise from the bar. This included loud music, shouting, singing and the sounds of glasses smashing and chairs being dragged along the floor. 

Customers often got drunk and violent. They sometimes urinated outside. Police were called to the bar dozens of times because of such disturbances. 

Judgment of the European Court of Human Rights

The European court found that the Croatian authorities had allowed the situation to continue for more than ten years without reaching a solution. They failed to comply with Croatian court decisions which took into account some of Ljubica’s complaints and which had ordered her case to be re-examined, with her full participation. This was a breach of Ljubica’s rights.

Such noise . . . must have disturbed the amenity of the applicant's everyday life.

Judgment of the European Court of Human Rights, July 2014

Follow-up 

In response to the European court judgment, Croatia passed two new laws to enhance protection from noise pollution: 

  • The 2018 Act on State Inspectorate, which came into force in 2019, requires all inspections to be carried out by one specialised and independent body. Increased fines can be issued if individuals or businesses do not comply with inspectors’ orders to reduce noise levels. 
  • The 2018 Administrative Inspection Act ensures the effective participation of all parties in disputes and the protection of their rights and interests.

The shop below Ljubica’s home closed in 2010. The bar closed in 2013.