(Bloomberg) -- A group of residents in a luxury London apartment building that neighbors the Tate Modern Gallery won a lawsuit against the museum at the UK’s highest court, after they complained that gallery visitors could peek into their windows.
The owners of four apartments overlooking the River Thames, which feature floor-to-ceiling windows, have been locked in a legal battle with the gallery’s board of trustees after arguing their privacy is being violated from the gallery’s adjacent viewing platform.
Supreme Court judges ruled on Wednesday that the Tate Modern is responsible to the residents for the nuisance and sent the case back to a lower court to decide on a remedy.
“It is not difficult to imagine how oppressive living in such circumstances would feel for any ordinary person - much like being on display in a zoo,” Judge George Leggatt said in the written judgment.
The Blavatnik Building, an extension to the Tate Modern, has a viewing gallery allowing a a 360-degree panoramic view of central London, and was built around the same time as the flats. It hosts hundreds of thousands of people each year and as many as 300 visitors can access it at the same time, with the homeowners arguing some used binoculars to look inside the flats.
“Residents can throw away their net curtains after all,” said James Souter, a lawyer at Charles Russell Speechlys, who’s not involved in the case. “Today’s judgment is a landmark moment extending the law of nuisance to protect against visual intrusion.”
A spokesperson for the Tate Modern said the case continues and declined to comment further.
“Our clients now look forward to working with the Tate as valued neighbors to find a practical solution which protects all of their interests,” said Natasha Rees, a lawyer at Forsters LLP, which represents the residents.
(Updates with Tate spokesperson’s comment in seventh paragraph)
©2023 Bloomberg L.P.