Dispute about a small pond full of mosquitos lands in Swiss Federal Court
When we think of federal courts around the world, images of society-defining judgements and hard-fought, dramatic cases tend to come to mind. In one judgement made on October 3, however, it seems the Federal Court of Switzerland decided to take a short break from making history to rule on a dispute involving a terrace, a pond, two neighbours and a swarm of mosquitoes.
Small pond causes mosquito hell for Schwyz homeowner
According to a report from Blick, the story starts in 2001, when a small four-square metre pond was installed on the terrace of a house in Canton Schywz. Unfortunately, a few years later, the neighbours, who had recently bought the home next door, started to complain that the pool was a breeding ground for a “swarm of mosquitoes.”
They argued that they had been unable to use the whole of their apartment because of the huge number of insects spawning from the pond. When the owner refused to remove the pond, the couple phoned a lawyer and launched legal action.
Neighbours demand over 90.000 Swiss francs in compensation
The neighbours demanded that the owner get rid of the pool, or pay them 92.000 francs - plus 5 percent interest since 2017 - as compensation for the “permanent reduction in the value of the property.” They also requested the owner pay them 37.375 francs a year, plus interest, for the “loss of the use of their roof terrace” between 2019 and whenever the case is resolved.
Sadly for the complainants, the suit initially fell on deaf ears, being rejected by the district court in Höfe and the cantonal court in Schwyz. Officials from the canton ruled that while evidence was provided by experts to support the idea that the pool was a breeding ground for mosquitoes, the neighbours never claimed to have been bitten by the insects nor explained what an “enormous swarm” actually meant.
Not to be deterred, the neighbours decided to take the case higher, with the issue now heard in Federal Court. It was there that their luck changed.
Swiss Federal Court gets involved in mosquito dispute
At the hearing in Lausanne on October 3, the Federal Court partially approved the grounds for the complaint, arguing that the cantonal court’s decision had been flawed and arbitrary. “If the lower court wants to say that the complainants should have counted the individual mosquitoes, that cannot be followed,” they argued.
However, they said that while the complaint may be partially valid, the cantonal court still needs to analyse whether the mosquito infestation caused an excessive nuisance. The case will now be back on the agenda in Schwyz's cantonal court.