Noise can be described as any loud or annoying sound that interrupts the activities people are engaged in. It can further be said to be an unwanted sound that disrupts public peace, regular activities and communication. In effect, noise pollution occurs when there is an excess of disruptive or unpleasant sound in the surrounding environment, typically emanating from sources such as traffic, industrial activities, construction work, and urban development.

Excessive noise can lead to stress, hearing impairment, sleep disturbances, and other health issues. Examples of sounds that could be categorized as noise include amplified music from gatherings, blaring alarms or sirens, and raised voices during arguments or disputes, industrial noises from factories or manufacturing plants, traffic sounds from honking, noise from animals etc. As per the definition provided, noise emerges as a notable environmental peril confronting numerous nations, with Ghana notably included within this context. Consequently, governmental bodies have instituted a framework of regulations and legal frameworks aimed at curbing and mitigating the detrimental effects of noise pollution within the Ghanaian territory. These regulations span across both civil and criminal domains, encompassing measures designed to address the challenges posed by excessive noise levels, thereby safeguarding public health, well-being, and environmental integrity. Below is an  outline  of the civil and criminal laws concerning noise-making in Ghana.


A specific form of generating noise has been designated as a criminal offense in Ghana under the Criminal  And Other Offences Act, 1960 (Act 29), specifically illustrated within sections 293, 294, 295, and 298, as well as 296(g).

According to the provisions outlined in section 293, individuals residing within a town in Ghana who occupy a house, building, or yard can be charged with a crime if they allow gatherings accompanied by music without obtaining the requisite written permit from the district assembly. The absence of such a permit renders them liable to face penalties, including fines of up to 5 penalty units. This legal stipulation underscores the necessity for individuals to adhere to the regulatory framework governing noise-making activities, emphasizing the importance of obtaining formal authorization from the appropriate authorities before engaging in such activities. Thus, the provision elucidated in section 293 serves as a deterrent against unauthorized noise-making practices, reinforcing the principle that compliance with regulatory protocols is essential to avoid contravening the law and incurring legal consequences.

Moreover, as stated in section 294, an individual who persists in playing loud music or generating noise while a court is in session, even after receiving warnings from a police officer or court official, within a radius of 300 yards from the court premises, can be subject to criminal charges and may incur a fine of up to 5 penalty units. This provision aims to maintain the sanctity of court proceedings by preventing external disturbances that could interfere with the administration of justice. Offenders may face penalties, including fines of up to 5 penalty units, underscoring the importance of respecting the authority of the court and adhering to regulations to ensure an orderly legal process.

Section 295 additionally specifies that engaging in drumming with the deliberate intent to provoke or irritate another person, thereby potentially leading to disturbances or conflicts, constitutes a punishable offense under the law. This provision underscores the significance of the individual’s motive behind the act of drumming, emphasizing that it must not be driven by intentions to disrupt peace or cause annoyance to others. By imposing penalties of up to 25 penalty units, this legal directive aims to deter individuals from engaging in such behavior, thereby promoting harmony and order within society while safeguarding the well-being and tranquility of its members.

Furthermore, according to section 296(g), if an individual, within a town setting, knowingly or recklessly produces a loud or inappropriate noise, even after receiving warnings to cease such behavior, they can be held accountable for committing a criminal offense. This legal provision underscores the significance of the individual’s actions in disrupting the peace and tranquility of the community. By imposing potential fines not exceeding ten penalty units, the law aims to deter individuals from engaging in behaviors that cause annoyance or disturbance to others. Furthermore, it emphasizes the importance of respecting communal harmony and promoting a conducive environment for all members of society to live peacefully and without undue disruption.

Lastly, section 298 outlines the legal provisions regarding disturbances of the peace in public areas or within the vicinity of others in Ghana. According to this section, individuals who engage in actions that disrupt tranquility, such as fighting, arguing, or creating loud and disruptive noises, can be charged with a criminal offense. The intent is to maintain order and harmony within public spaces, ensuring that individuals can go about their activities without undue interference or disturbance. By imposing potential fines of up to ten penalty units, this legal framework aims to deter individuals from engaging in behaviors that disrupt the peace and infringe upon the rights and well-being of others. Additionally, it underscores the importance of respecting public spaces and promoting a safe and peaceful environment for all members of society.

In addition, it is worth noting that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has established specific guidelines concerning ambient noise levels within residential areas, as delineated in the Environmental Protection Agency Act of 1994 (Act 490). According to these regulations, the permissible noise levels during the daytime should not surpass 55 decibels, while the limit is reduced to 48 decibels during nighttime hours. Adherence to these standards is crucial to mitigate the adverse effects of noise pollution and ensure the well-being of residents. Failure to comply with these regulations constitutes a criminal offense, aligning with the legal provisions outlined in the aforementioned sections. This underscores the significance of maintaining acceptable noise levels to uphold environmental quality and safeguard public health and tranquility.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has formulated comprehensive guidelines addressing noise pollution, emphasizing the importance of mitigating excessive noise emissions to uphold environmental quality and promote public health and well-being. In recognition of the significance of these guidelines, the EPA has advocated for their integration into the bye-laws of metropolitan, municipal, and district assemblies. By incorporating these guidelines into local regulations, authorities can effectively enforce measures to regulate noise levels, ensuring compliance with established standards and fostering a conducive environment for sustainable development. This collaborative effort between the EPA and local governance structures underscores the collective commitment to addressing environmental challenges and promoting harmonious living conditions within communities. An example is, district assemblies play a pivotal role in regulating activities that produce substantial noise, including construction projects, outdoor gatherings, and commercial ventures. They achieve this by mandating permits and imposing stipulations to mitigate noise disruptions. For instance, a district assembly may grant a permit to a local pub for operation. However, they retain the authority to revoke this permit should the pub fail to comply with noise-related regulations and guidelines.


In the context of civil law, regulations governing noise pollution are typically addressed within the law of torts  specifically nuisance. Nuisance, in the law torts refers to any unreasonable disruption or interference with an individual’s ability to use and enjoy their property or maintain peace and tranquility. This interference can manifest in various forms, such as excessive noise, noxious odors, vibrations, pollution, or other disturbances that substantially impact the affected party’s quality of life. Nuisance claims can be classified as either private, affecting specific individuals or property owners, or public, impacting the rights of the broader community or a significant portion. Noise is a common form of private nuisance with an example being excessive tolling of church bells.

In determining whether an act such as noise constitutes nuisance, the following factors need to be considered. The first factor is the purpose of the defendant’s conduct which is the mental state. If the defendant’s primary object in doing an act is to injure his neighbor, the the conduct is unreasonable. Thus, in the case of CHRISTIE V. DAVEY [1893] CH 136, the individuals involved resided in semi-detached houses. The plaintiff conducted music lessons and hosted musical gatherings in his home, which greatly irritated the defendant. The defendant, with the intent to vex and annoy the plaintiff, engaged in various disruptive behaviors such as blowing whistles, knocking on trays or boards, hammering, shrieking, and shouting whenever the plaintiff's lessons or parties were underway. The court determined that such interference could be restrained through an injunction. However, if both parties had been entirely innocent, and the interference had been purely coincidental, the outcome would have been different. This implies that if a defendant behaves in a manner reasonably expected of them, even if done maliciously, they will not be held liable, even if their actions cause harm to their neighbor.

Another aspect to consider is the suitability of the locality. Courts examine whether the defendant's actions are taking place in a suitable or designated area for such activities. For example, establishing a factory in a residential neighborhood or setting up a stable there may be deemed a nuisance. Therefore, in the case of MOY V. STOOP, a day nursery was established in a residential area where the sounds of children crying were heard. Initially, it was determined that the crying of the children, on its own, did not constitute a legal action. However, if it could be demonstrated that the children’s crying resulted from neglect, then it might be considered actionable nuisance. Additionally, in the case of Leeman v. Montagu, the plaintiff purchased a house situated in an area that was predominantly residential but partly rural. The defendant maintained a poultry breeding operation in an orchard approximately 100 yards from the plaintiff’s house, where some 750 cockerels would crow incessantly from 2 a.m. until 7 or 8 a.m. This persistent noise prevented the plaintiff from sleeping. Consequently, the court ruled that a nuisance had been established, and the plaintiff was granted an injunction to prohibit the defendant from conducting the poultry breeding business in such a disruptive manner.

Furthermore, the nature of use to which the defendant puts land is another factor that needs to be considered. In general, the mere fact that a use is natural does not automatically determine its reasonableness. For instance, in the case of MATANIA V. NATIONAL PROVINCIAL BANK, the temporary disturbance caused by noise and dust resulting from renovations being carried out on a building was considered a nuisance due to the significant interference it caused. This case illustrates that the duration of the unreasonable behavior is not the sole determining factor; even temporary disruptions can be deemed a nuisance if they are substantial.

Lastly, according  to the legal principle, when someone operates under a statute, they are required to exercise reasonable care. Therefore, in theory, a person who operates under a statute could potentially be held liable for nuisance. In effect, a person who is operating under statute makes noise without exercising reasonable care will be liable of nuisance.


There exist three legal defences against claims of nuisance: consent, prescription, and statutory authority. Consent refers to situations where the affected party has given explicit permission for the alleged nuisance to occur, thereby absolving the defendant of liability. Prescription, on the other hand, arises when a particular nuisance has persisted for an extended period without objection from the affected party, thus granting the defendant a legal right to continue the activity. Lastly, statutory authority entails situations where the alleged nuisance is carried out under the authority of a relevant statute or law, thereby providing a legal justification for the defendant’s actions. These defenses serve to mitigate liability and provide legal recourse for defendants facing allegations of nuisance.


 To sum up, both criminal and civil branches of the law establish regulations concerning noise production, with criminal law prohibiting certain noise-making activities unless specific conditions are met. Failing thereof can result in a fine, an imprisonment or both. On the other hand the rules on nuisance in the law of torts is the substantial means to regulate and seek remedy from injury arising from noise pollution within the civil sphere.


About the author; Justice Issifu Omoro Tanko Amadu is a justice of the Supreme Court of Ghana.

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