Taking a court case
Anyone can take a case to court because of antisocial behaviour. However, private prosecutions usually aren't very successful and legal aid usually isn't available to cover your legal costs.
Your local council and the Police Service of Northern Ireland also have the power to pursue a prosecution for anti social behaviour. This is likely to be a better option. It's worth talking to the council of the police to see if they are considering legal action.
When can I take a criminal court case?
You can take a criminal court case if you feel that the other person has attacked you, or you feel afraid that s/he will attack you. Most people will only take a personal criminal case if it is a domestic dispute, such as stalking. If you have been attacked the Director of Public Prosecutions will usually take over the case.
When can I take a civil court case?
You can take a civil case if you want to:
- claim compensation for damages, and/or
- apply for an injunction
You should remember that there is no point in looking for damages if the other person has no money or assets.
You can only take a civil court case if you can prove to have suffered damage or harm and the antisocial behaviour falls into one of the following legal categories:
- trespass to land
- trespass to goods
- assault and battery
Nuisance is the unreasonable use of property that interferes with somebody else's enjoyment of their property. For example, loud music or rubbish.
If a person is convicted of harassment you can take civil proceedings for damages and/or an injunction to stop the behaviour. This is not the same as harassment of a tenant by a landlord.
Trespass to land
Trespass to land is entering another person's premises without their permission. It also applies if someone refuses to leave when asked to.
Trespass to goods
Trespass to goods includes damaging another person's property.
Conversion is using someone else's property without their permission.
Assault and battery
Assault is a threat or action which makes someone afraid of a physical attack. For example, a punch which is thrown but misses. Battery is the actual act of physical violence.