Across the country, people are starting to prepare for Bonfire Night, but there are strict legal requirements for private events.
People are encouraged to attend public exhibits where health and safety precautions have been observed, but some people will invite neighbors and start fireworks in their gardens.
However, while these bring joy to many, things can heat up if these fireworks are not handled with care, which can lead to arguments between neighbors and potential property damage and injury.
Who is responsible if someone is injured by fireworks at a party? Are there any restrictions on when you can have a bonfire? And what can you do if your neighbor’s bonfire is causing damage to your property?
DAS Law legal counsel Lauren Woolf sheds light on the laws surrounding Bonfire Night and private fireworks.
What fireworks can you shoot?
Fireworks for adults (Category 2 or 3) can be set by anyone on private property. Only licensed professionals may shoot Category 4 fireworks, whether on private property or as part of an organized public fireworks display.
What is the curfew?
Generally, fireworks on private property can be set off year-round between 7 a.m. and 11 p.m. However, at certain times of the year, this curfew is extended; at midnight on Bonfire Night and 1 a.m. on New Year’s Eve, Chinese New Year and Diwali.
It’s important to note that local by-laws can affect these curfews, so it’s worth checking with your local authority if there are any additional limitations.
How do you stay on the right side of the law if you’re hosting your own fireworks display?
To legally organize your own fireworks without violating criminal law, you must be over 18 years old, have purchased the fireworks from an approved supplier, and, if lighting them in a public place, have obtained the right to fireworks. authorization of the competent authority.
While it is legal to install them on private land, if you are a tenant of a property, it is worth checking with the landlord if there is a stipulation in your lease that prevents you from setting off fireworks.
It is important to note that you have a duty of care to ensure the safety of your neighbors and visitors if you have your own fireworks display.
Check the RoSPA (Royal Society for Prevention of Accidents) online guidelines to make sure you are well informed about the necessary precautions.
All fireworks have instructions and any negligence – such as setting them off in an inappropriate environment or against published instructions – resulting in personal injury or property damage could make you liable for civil action.
If you are lighting fireworks on private land, it is also a good idea to check your home insurance limits to see what protection is against damage from explosion, fire, or smoke.
As above, most insurers usually have a âduty of careâ clause, so in the event of a claim you may need to prove that you took reasonable precautions.
Can you burn something on a bonfire?
No you can not.
Under the Environmental Protection Act 1990, it is prohibited to burn any substance that will emit harmful fumes that pollute the environment or harm human health – it can be plastic items, rubber or painted.
You must ensure that the fire is contained and does not escape causing damage or injury to persons.
It is also an offense if someone on a public road is âinjured, interrupted or endangeredâ by the fire or smoke from your bonfire.
Can you prevent your neighbor from having a bonfire?
You are unlikely to be able to prevent your neighbor from having a bonfire if he does so occasionally and does not burn hazardous materials.
Obviously, if the neighbor’s fire poses a clear risk to the safety of your property, it could be reported to the fire department.
Alternatively, if the neighbor is burning hazardous material or causing damage to human health, you can report it to your local council who will investigate and serve a reduction notice if the neighbor is found to be causing a nuisance.
Is it true that there are restrictions on when you can have a bonfire?
There is no restriction on when you can have a bonfire as there is actually no law governing having it.
There are, however, environmental laws relating to any nuisance your bonfire may cause.
If a neighbor’s bonfire or fireworks cause damage to your property, who to ask for insurance?
If the property is damaged because a neighbor failed to contain a fire, take appropriate measures to prevent a fire from escaping or spiraling out of control or setting fireworks safely, your neighbor could be responsible for damages.
If it’s your neighbor’s fault, he should claim his insurance, but you can’t insist he does.
However, faced with a possible claim for damages, the neighbor may choose to involve his insurance company instead of dealing with it himself.
What are the legal ramifications if you are injured by fireworks at a party with friends or family?
An occupant of land, under the Occupiers’ Liability Act 1957, has a duty to any visitor to take reasonable precautions to ensure that the visitor is safe on the premises.
Therefore, if someone is having a fireworks party, they should make sure that they purchase the fireworks from an authorized point of sale, read the instructions carefully before use, and turn on the fires. fireworks in a safe place.
If you are injured, you may be able to engage the responsibility of the event organizer.
If a fireworks display malfunctions and you are injured, you may be able to hold the manufacturer liable under the Consumer Protection Act 1987. The organizer is advised to keep the receipt, packaging and all instructions.
What recourse do I have if my neighbor causes a nuisance?
If your neighbor’s bonfire or fireworks are affecting you, the first step would be to bring it up with the neighbor to make them aware of the impact the bonfire has on you.
If that fails, you may be able to get a court order restricting the neighbor’s ability to build a bonfire.
However, an occasional bonfire is unlikely to constitute a legal nuisance and legal advice should be sought when considering legal action against your neighbor.
If your neighbor’s bonfire or fireworks display is likely to be hazardous to your health and unreasonably interfere with the enjoyment of your property, you can report it to the local environmental health team.
The local authority can then investigate and serve a reduction notice if necessary.
What if someone sets them off on my street late at night – what are my rights, what does the law say?
If you are purchasing fireworks for personal use, you are only allowed to use them on your private property or on property where you have the consent of the landowner.
It is considered a criminal offense to set off fireworks in the street or other public places without permission and you can contact the police if anyone breaks the law.
If you want to set them up in a public place for events, such as a street party, you will need to get express permission from the local authority.
What happens if you break the law?
Under the fireworks law, if you break the law regarding the use of fireworks, you can receive a prison sentence of up to six months or a fine of up to 5 months. Â£ 000.
Breaking the law is a criminal offense, but if you cause property damage or injury to someone, you can be held liable for a civil offense and be sued for negligence.
Disclaimer: This information is provided as a guide to rights and responsibilities and does not constitute formal legal advice, as no attorney-client relationship has been created.