Cleaning leaves in autumn. Illustrative photo.
Brno – The Supreme Court (NS) annulled the judgment which ordered the town hall in Chlumec nad Cidlinou in Hradec Králové to ensure regular cleaning of leaves falling on a private garden from a row of trees on city property. The lawsuit of the owners of the garden must be heard again by the District Court in Hradec Králové, ČTK found out from the official board. The final outcome still remains open, the reasoning goes. NS did not rule out the possibility of financial compensation for the owner of the garden.
The garden adjoins the city property, on which there are a number of mature maple trees. The owner turned to the courts because of emissions from trees, i.e. leaves, flowers and twigs that fall into his garden, swimming pool or gutters – and he succeeded. According to the judgment, the town hall was supposed to clean the garden once a month from March to September. In October and November, i.e. at the time of increased leaf fall, twice a month. The owner even demanded more thorough cleaning in enforcement proceedings.
The city saw the verdict as a dangerous precedent. In the appeal, Chlumec nad Cidlinau pre-empted several arguments, NS stated that they were not justified or relevant for most of them. In the end, however, he annulled the decision of the regional and district courts primarily because “the appeals court was not authorized to obligate the defendant to determine a specific way in which he is to comply with the imposed obligation to refrain from interfering with the exercise of the plaintiffs' property rights, namely by imposing the obligation to regularly clean the plaintiffs' land”.
The contentious question remains “the level of emissions appropriate to local conditions” as well as the frequency of cleaning. According to NS, Justice did not deal sufficiently thoroughly with the frequency of leaf cleaning on similar plots of land in the vicinity. In addition, according to NS, the normal frequency of cleaning is a subjective criterion, because each person has different requirements for their garden.
“The frequency of cleaning in itself does not say anything about the amount of immision that actually falls on the given plot of land, and whether this amount is appropriate for local conditions or not,” stated NS. “Therefore, the Court of Appeal considers it more appropriate to choose a criterion that would determine the amount of emissions – fallen leaves, twigs and branches in some way in terms of volume, because only in this way can the level of emissions (at any time of the year) be objectively assessed,” the reasoning continues.
In the past, the town hall also considered having 70-year-old maple trees cut down. However, the nature protection authorities did not allow it. For similar reasons, a more significant reduction of tree crowns is also not an option.
“If no other solution can be found in the given case at the moment, which would arrange the legal relations of the participants in a reasonable and fair way, NS is of the opinion that in in this completely exceptional and atypical case, a solution can be considered, which will consist of financial compensation,” said NS. He expressed his conclusion despite the fact that the Civil Code does not explicitly provide for such a solution.