Tate Modern neighbours win Supreme Court balcony privacy case

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Residents who complained about Tate Modern visitors being able to see into their luxury London flats as they felt like they were ‘on display like a zoo’ have won a privacy case against the gallery. The Supreme Court ruled that those living in the flats had suffered a ‘nuisance’ as galler visitors could see inside the flats from a viewing platform.

Complaints were first lodged in 2016, urging Tate Modern to stop people using the platform or seeking recompense for the inconvenience. Their case was initially dismissed, and they were advised to use blinds or “net curtains” to stop tourists looking into their flats, and often taking photographs and videos that were shared on social media.

But the Supreme Court in London has now ruled the situation must be “remedied” to stop tourists looking into the flats.

The ruling said: “The claimants’ flats are under near constant observation by visitors to the viewing platform.

“There are hundreds of thousands of spectators each year and many take photographs and post them on social media. The ordinary person would consider this level of intrusion to be a substantial interference with the ordinary use and enjoyment of their home.”

The Tate Modern is “therefore liable to the claimants in nuisance”, the statement concluded.

A “remedy” for the situation will now be decided by the High Court.

The senior lawyer advising the residents, Natasha Rees, said: “Our clients are both pleased and relieved that nearly six years after they began their claim the Supreme Court has now found in their favour.

“Lord Leggatt, giving the majority judgment, recognised how oppressive it can be to live ‘under constant observation from the Tate’s viewing gallery for much of the day, every day of the week…much like being on display in a zoo.

“Our clients now look forward to working with the Tate as valued neighbours to find a practical solution which protects all of their interests.”

James Souter, a partner at Charles Russell Speechlys, branded the judgement a “landmark moment extending the law of nuisance to protect against visual intrusion.”

He also said the 3-2 split between the judges showed “how finely balanced the case was even to the very end”.

Mr Souter continued: “Looking ahead, it will be interesting to see whether this case triggers more property owners to make similar claims where they feel they are being overlooked.

“However, the supreme court has made it clear that the circumstances where the new law will be applied will be rare but did highlight issues around CCTV and sharing of images from cameraphones on social media.”

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