In some ways firing off a letter of complaint to your local MP or to the Chief Executive of a supermarket is easy.  For the sake of a bit of effort and the price of a postage stamp you can register your displeasure with relative ease.  The nicest part about a complaint of that sort is that you can pull the strings by remote control – you will not need to have a one-to-one encounter as part of the process.  Indeed, as a general rule I encourage people to complain in writing rather than on the phone or in person.
  • Complaining to your neighbour is different.  It is up close and personal and there are plenty of tales of matters getting out of hand with some even resulting in violence.  A complaint to your neighbour has to be polite and sensitive as well as firm.  The most common examples include loud noise, issues about planning permission and boundary disputes.  It goes without saying that you should try to resolve the issue amicably but what if that fails?  Of course you can resort to more formal processes such as a solicitor’s letter or litigation but another avenue to consider is mediation ie. involving an experienced third party to help broker a solution.  The problem with going to law is that it is often a rocky road downwards since your relationship with your neighbour will almost certainly never recover.  Long and bitter disputes can end up in both parties wasting a fortune on legal fees with the the lawyers ending up as the only real winners.  This is to be avoided at all costs.
  • If the complaint is serious there are several ways to escalate the complaint without going directly to litigation.  If your discussions have failed you should record your thoughts in a note or a firm letter and where appropriate you should involve a formal third party such as your local authority eg. regarding noise abatement.  Another approach which may help is to collaborate with your other neighbours if the problem is more widespread.  If all else fails and enough is at stake you will have to go to law but be very wary indeed – be prepared to face the consequences which often go way beyond money.  People have been know to move house as a result of long-running neighbour disputes getting out of hand.