A couple who were forced to take refuge in the British Library over the noise of a football persistently “smashing” into their fence have won a court case.
Warren Bergson, a lawyer, and his wife Dr Edel McAndrew-Bergson, a psychologist, took out memberships at the library to seek out peace and quiet after they became annoyed by the repeated “crashing” of their neighbour’s son’s football.
Chaim Adler’s eight-year-old son sent his football into their fence every weekend, the couple said.
In May 2018, Mr Bergson confiscated the ball after it flew into their garden, leading Mr Adler to burst into their yard and use “aggressive body language” towards the couple over how his son had been reduced to tears.
Mr Adler, 34, a boss of a fire alarm company, also banged on the older couple’s door at their home in Golders Green, London, and pressed his face against their window, “baring his teeth and growling” at them, the Mayor's & City of London Court was told.
Judge Stephen Hellman KC found that, although Mr Bergson should not have confiscated the ball, Mr Adler had overreacted and “harassed” the couple.
He said that the Bergsons were a “mature couple who enjoyed peace and quiet”, while the Adlers enjoyed family gatherings at weekends, which was “always going to be a potential source of tension”.
Mr Adler’s parents, Zavy and Esther Adler, who own the property next to the Bergsons, also face having to make payouts following the dispute.
Clashes between the Bergsons and their neighbours began in August 2017 when Dr McAndrew-Bergson was hanging out washing and water began spilling into the garden from next door.
Her husband realised that this had been caused by the Adlers’ grandchildren’s use of the paddling pool.
The couple said Mr Bergson had remonstrated with his neighbours but that Zavy Adler, 72, had rushed at him and followed him back to his garden, “ranting and raving” and “dancing around in a frenzy”, abusing Dr McAndrew-Bergson with a particularly offensive Yiddish term, the court heard.
Police were called and, although Mr Bergson and Mr Adler had later shaken hands, the Bergsons claimed that the incident was the start of a “campaign of harassment”.
The couple said that a football was “crashed” repeatedly against their fence every weekend to intimidate them and that they had taken out British Library memberships to escape the noise.
The court heard that over a long weekend in May 2018, they had become so frustrated by the noise of the ball that Dr McAndrew-Bergson had grabbed it and thrown it over another neighbour’s fence as it came into her garden.
On another occasion over the same weekend, her husband decided to confiscate it and take it into his flat
The couple said that this caused Chaim Adler to enter their garden with a range of family members, “snarling” at Mr Bergson and on the second occasion attempting to push his way into their flat, the court heard.
The judge said that it was clear Mr Adler “was angry because they had twice reduced his eight-year-old son to tears”. But, although Mr Bergson should have given the ball back when requested and Dr McAndrew-Bergson should not have thrown it over the other neighbour’s fence, Mr Adler’s response was not justified and amounted to harassment.
He adjourned the case until a later date, when he will decide what Dr McAndrew-Bergson should get in damages from Mr and Mrs Adler for the interference and from their son for the harassment and trespass.
He will also then decide who will have to pay the lawyers' bills for the case, which are likely to be substantial, having taken up three days in court, with another hearing still to come.