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Legal protection

Legal tip #18: When cowbells upset your life

Calm and peaceful: that’s how many people imagine life in the countryside. But it isn’t always so, as proved by the case of a client of Coop Legal Protection. He can’t sleep because of the bells on the grazing cows. Coop Legal Protection knows if cowbells can be banned from a residential area.

1 September 2017, author: Petra Huser, photo: iStock

Cows graze in a field next to a residential area.
Life in the countryside can be so idyllic. But what if you can’t sleep because of noise from cowbells?

A client of Coop Legal Protection reported that his quality of life has been greatly reduced for some time. He can’t sleep through the night anymore and is always tired at work as a result. And all because of the cows that graze on his neighbour’s land. The problem: The cows wear bells. Talking with the farmer was unsuccessful. He says the bells are necessary so that he can find the cows if they leave the field. Bringing the issue before the local authorities also brought no results – according to them, such cases are not regulated by the noise protection ordinance.

Land owner must prevent noise

Since the aforementioned case has to do with neighbourhood regulations, the Civil Code applies. Article 684 states that landowners, in exercising their ownership rights – particularly when running a business on their land – are obligated “to refrain from any excess detrimental to neighbouring properties. In particular all harmful effects such as air pollution emissions of noxious vapours, noise, vibrations, or the deprivation of daylight are prohibited.” Therefore, if the farmer lets his cows graze on his land, he is obligated to ensure that the owners of the surrounding properties are not inconvenienced.

Impact of noise clearly verifiable

For Coop Legal Protection it quickly became clear that this case involves excess noise impact: “The noise caused by the cowbells has a very negative impact on the quality of life in the area due to its irregularity and volume.” In a letter to the farmer, the solicitor in charge of the case called attention to the article in the Civil Code and pointed out to the farmer that outfitting his cows with bells in a residential area is not urgently required.

A few weeks later, the client contacted the solicitor and explained that the situation had improved dramatically. He said only two small calves were now wearing bells, which wasn’t bothersome. Now he can finally sleep through the night again.

Petra Huser

Petra Huser

Petra Huser began at Coop Legal Protection in November 1999 as a legal assistant. Starting in 2008 she was an assistant to the Executive Management. Today she is in charge of communications for the firm and came across this interesting legal case during her internal case research for the client magazine