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WG Environmental Law > Meetings > Roma 4-5 October 2012 > Noisy neighbours (mediation case)

Noisy neighbours (mediation case)

Two years ago Eva Müller, a retired teacher of biology, moved from Cologne to Kleinstadt, a small rural town near Aachen situated near the Dutch border. There she lives in a former farmhouse and enjoys the calm.

While Munich has its Oktoberfest, the people of Kleinstadt celebrate their traditional Klompen-Fest once a year in April. Klompen are wooden shoes. They are worn on the day of the festival by more than 100 persons. The Klompen-Fest with all its singing, dancing, eating and drinking takes place on a meadow by the side of a river. The farmhouse of Eva Müller lies at a distance of 500 m.

Local environmental law classifies the meadow as “to be protected”. Any “relevant activity” requires an approval by the higher authority in Cologne. Fritz Holland, organizer of the Klompen-Fest and newly elected Klompen-King, never applied for an approval. The mayor of Kleinstadt Michael Schultz has tolerated that.

Eva Müller is annoyed by the Klompen-Fest that causes nothing but "disturbing noises." She brings a legal action against the City of Kleinstadt before the Aachen Administrative Court. She applies for a court injunction that forces mayor Willi Schultz to forbid Fritz Holland the upcoming Klompen-Fest.

The parties agree on a mediation conducted by a judge mediator.

Who is Eva Müller?


She was born in the year 1940 in Berlin. She is married to Adam Müller,

a retired architect. They have two sons living in Munich and four grandchildren.

Last year they had their family reunion at the Munich Oktoberfest

because Adam Müller and “the boys” are very fond of festivals.

After the war Eva and her family moved to Cologne. She studied biology and chemics at Cologne University. From 1965 to 2005 she worked as a teacher. Her special interest was and still is ornithology.

In 2010 she and her husband bought the old farmhouse in Kleinstadt. She loves the calmness there and takes long walks. One day she crossed the low meadow where they have this “silly Klompen-Fest”. All of a sudden she saw a wonderful bird. It might have been a kingfisher (=Eisvogel =Alcedo atthis).

She thinks to herself:

"What a wonderful thing to have a kingfisher population nearby!

What a shame if the noise of the Klompenfest will disturb the nest-building!"

Who is Michael Schultz?

He was born in the year 1962 in Kleinstadt. He is married to Anna Schulz. From 1980 to 1985 he studied law at the University of Cologne. After his bar exam in 1987 he worked as a lawyer.

In 2012 he was elected mayor of Kleinstadt by a vast majority of voters.

He likes his new job very much and is already concerned about being reelected. If he had to order a prohibition of the traditional “Klompen-Fest” it would not be helpful at all in his reelection campaign. Therefore he is interested in an amicable settlement that would give him a little time to solve this sensitive issue and talk with the higher environmental authority of the region.

He thinks to himself:

"Eva Müller should not be so sensitive about the noise. Furthermore she cannot enforce every public regulation she wants. The requirement of the approval by a higher authority is in the public interest and cannot be enforced by a private party".

Who is Fritz Holland?

He was born in the year 1952 in Kleinstadt and is married to Antje Holland.

After school he served his apprenticeship as beer brewer. In 2000 he started to run a pub in the center of Kleinstadt where he sells his home-brewed beer.

Every year he organises the Klompenfest. Last year he was elected “Klompen- king”. There even was an article about it in the local press, which made him and his wife very proud. He loves birds. At home he has at least 10 canaries in the most wonderful colours.

He thinks to himself:

"Eva Müller should stop telling other people what to do. She has to accept other people having fun sometime. I have never seen her in my pub. I hope the mediation will not turn out to be a big waste of time."